Pakistan has reportedly attempted to illegally gather data from the Indian Defence Forces in Ladakh using a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephony system, at a time when New Delhi is embroiled in a border infrastructure dispute with China.
The clandestine activity was uncovered by the Mumbai Police Crime Branch and Indian Army’s intelligence team, Republic Media Network reported on Saturday, citing unnamed officials.
"This is the biggest spy network using illegal Voice Over Internet Protocol. A total of three functional sim boxes and one standby sim box along with 191 sim cards, laptop modem; antennas; batteries and connectors. Defence persons received calls from suspicious numbers, seeking information related to Ladakh Region and important defence installations,” a source was cited as saying.
The Indian investigative agencies have reportedly traced some incoming VoIP calls from Pakistan, suspecting the involvement of the Pakistani intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
The Chinese SIM boxes that come with the most common type of Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) SIM cards converted calls from Pakistan to appear “local”, the media reported, citing anonymous sources familiar with the matter.
The devices are banned by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), which is responsible for regulating telecommunications in the country.
“These exchanges were being used by hostile intelligence agencies to seek military information through calls and posed a security threat to the nation. One arrest has been made in Mumbai and a probe is underway to ascertain the identity of more individuals who are involved and the locations of other similar exchanges,” an official close to the development was quoted by Republic Media Network as saying.
As of now, no detailed information about the results of the related investigation have been officially disclosed to the public.
Islamabad hasn't commented on these reports so far.
The Line of Actual Control is a loosely-demarcated border between Indian and China where cross-border transgressions are a common phenomenon, not classified as aggression by either side.
However, border tensions between the two countries escalated in the Ladakh sector this month, with armed troops from both the nations present at the stand-off site for over a week.
The tensions rose to a point where US President Donald Trump offered to intervene; India and China, however, decided to deal with the matter on their own.