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Police set to get cellphone locator facility

June 28, 2012

KARACHI, June 28: The Sindh police are set to acquire the multimillion cellphone caller location technology that officials see as a major breakthrough in the upgrade of the investigation system that will help in tracing not only those involved in kidnap for ransom and extortion cases but also militants, it emerged on Thursday.

The police won the trust of the federal authorities and spy agencies — which previously had intervened to have a similar project dropped — only after the city’s business community in a series of meetings with some senior dignitaries over frequent kidnappings, extortion and political, ethnic and sectarian killings pleaded their case.

“High-ups of the Sindh police’s CID [Crime Investigation Department] are in the final phase of being briefed about and testing the equipment called GSM [global system for mobile communication] caller locator,” said a source privy to the development.

“The CID will be mandated to run an operational unit of the equipment, which will also facilitate the investigation of cases by other arms of the Sindh police,” said the source.

“As the name implies, GSM caller locator will allow police investigators to spot the exact location from where a mobile phone call is being made.

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

For the past couple of days, he said, the CID officials had been busy with interested suppliers in testing the quality and accuracy of their equipment. For that purpose, the city’s district south had been selected where a number of callers’ locations were traced during an hours-long demonstration of the equipment, he added.

“A team of experts is also here in the city to train CID officials in an effective use of the technology. The final deal to acquire the equipment is expected within the next few days,” added the source.

In 2010, the city 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 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.

“This time there is no objection from any side and the stage is set to acquire the locater system,” he added.

He said the Sindh police were forced to scrap the tender seeking proposals for 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.