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Sindh police get caller location system

Updated August 13, 2013

KARACHI, Aug 12: The Sindh police have acquired the multimillion-rupee cellular phone caller location system — technology which has so far remained in the exclusive use and mandate of the intelligence agencies — that officials see as a breakthrough in the upgrade of the investigation system that will help in tracing not only those involved in kidnapping for ransom and extortion cases but also militants, it emerged on Monday.

The police won the trust of the federal authorities and intelligence agencies — which had previously intervened to have a similar project dropped — after the high-ups of the key law-enforcement agencies and the city’s business community pleaded their case at a series of meetings with some seniors over frequent kidnappings, extortion and political, ethnic and sectarian killings.

“The Sindh police have acquired two sets of the system and the special branch has been mandated to run an operational unit of the equipment, which will also facilitate investigation of cases by other arms of the department,” said an official.

“As the name implies, GSM [global system for mobile communication] caller locator will allow police investigators to spot the exact location from where a cellphone call is being made.”

For the past few weeks, he said, the special branch men were being trained by the supplier company and the officials concerned had also been busy with them in testing the quality and accuracy of their equipment. The system had already been used by different specialised investigation units of the city police, he added.

“The system would be very useful in solving different types of criminal cases, particularly kidnap for ransom and extortion cases, and busting militants’ communication system,” he added.

In 2010, the Karachi police plan to obtain such a system was shelved after the powerful intelligence apparatus of the country opposed the move. Under the existing practice, the police heavily depend on the intelligence agencies when they need to locate cellphone calls, especially those being made in high-profile cases of kidnapping for ransom.

The demand to equip the police in Karachi with the latest technology, which had been acquired by the Peshawar police more than two years ago, gained momentum when the Sindh government and the business community supported the move after police investigators cited a lack of modern technology to deal with well-organised gangs.

The source said: “The development would on the one hand put an end to that excuse, and on the other, enhance technological capability of the police. The authorities at all levels are now convinced that technological upgrade of the police and their capacity building is the need of the hour. That’s why this time there was no objection from any side and the Sindh police faced no hurdle during the months-long process.”

He said the Sindh police were forced to scrap the tender seeking proposals for the supply of the technology in 2010 on the intervention of the intelligence agencies and federal authorities as no approval had been sought before going for that technology.

“The equipment is the property of the Sindh police and it is meant to be used by the investigators anywhere in the province. But since there are only two sets, the authorities may find it hard to cater to the need of all districts,” he added.