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HAM experts sniff out illegal radio sets in Darjeeling

KOLKATA: HAM radio experts from the city, engaged by security agencies to monitor cross-border radio chatter in the Darjeeling Hills region, have helped in the detection of at least four trans-receivers operating in the Hills illegally. The monitoring, which started soon after the first round of violence on June 8, also confirmed security agencies' suspicion that unidentified receivers were tapping into police wireless communication.

The Mamata Banerjee government in Bengal has already alluded to "external help" for the Gorkhaland agitation and suspected links with underground outfits from the northeastern states. The Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee has steadfastly denied these charges, calling them an attempt to tarnish the "image of the agitation".
The HAM radio experts, who were engaged by security agencies, told TOI that they had succeeded in picking up communication between "a senior pro-Gorkhaland leader" and unidentified persons from across the Indian border.

"We have been engaged in radio communications for decades and do so for the better part of the day and have techniques that even security agencies do not have," one of the experts said on Friday. "That is why we are often engaged by security agencies to track down illegal sets operating in troubled areas," he added.

"Our services were requisitioned in Darjeeling as well. The initial chatter that we picked up from two sets operating from the Hills was innocuous. But, before long, we realised that those were just decoys to throw authorities off track. We succeeded in picking up communications between a senior leader of the ongoing Hills movement and somebody across the Indian border through a different set. The communication was in Nepali. Senior officials from security agencies were present when we intercepted the communication," this expert said.
Security officials in Kolkata confirmed they had requisitioned "expert help to monitor cross-border communication". "We sent more equipment and men from our Tollygunge unit after getting the report from these experts," a senior official added.

"We had our suspicions but could not confirm them. But the experts helped us and even showed us how the movement of police contingents were being monitored by listening in to our own dedicated frequencies," he said.
The experts from Kolkata also succeeded in finding out the location of a proper radio shack inside a forest near Darjeeling. A few days after this discovery, violence erupted nearby when cops tried to raid the area, an official said.
Officials said cops recovered some radio sets, similar to ones used by police vehicles, during raids at Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) president Bimal Gurung's residence-cum-office at Patlewas, about 6 km from Darjeeling town, on June 15. The GJM had then said that those were used in vehicles used by Gurung and other top leaders when they got security cover from the government.

"We have been helping government agencies not only during natural calamities but also to track down anti-national activities. There are over 35,000 HAM operators in India and we share very good synergy with security agencies," another HAM operator said.

Gorkha Janmukti Morcha central committee member Ramesh Aley dismissed this account, saying it was an attempt by security agencies to tarnish the "image of the agitation". "There is no question of seeking external help at all. We have always been loyal to the country and will always be," he added.

 

 

 

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