The State police are investigating allegations that private detectives were hired to spy on the activities of pro-Eelam Tamil activists, including students, in an attempt to prevent them from disrupting the ongoing IPL cricket matches, sources in intelligence agencies said on Tuesday.
Even as a city-based advocate P. Pugalenthi claimed that he sent a complaint by fax, email and Speed Post to the Police Commissioner stating that he received credible information on how a private security agency was hired to monitor the phone conversations of Tamil activists, student leaders, politicians, advocates, journalists and some police officers, the Chennai police maintained that no such complaint was received.
In his complaint, Mr. Pugalenthi, who is also secretary of Tamil Nadu People’s Rights Forum, named an individual, who, he alleged, was using special monitoring equipment to keep a tab on phone conversations.
“We have information that monitoring equipment is being used to intercept the mobile phone conversations of these activists. This is an offence punishable under the provisions of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 and the Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1933. Some student activists were even threatened not to indulge in any protest against IPL,” he said.
When contacted, Students Federation for Free Eelam coordinator V. Prabhakaran said some unidentified persons did call him on his mobile phone and warned them against any attempt to disrupt the IPL matches.
Not ruling out the possibility of unauthorised persons intercepting mobile phone conversations, an official in the State intelligence said such activity required expensive equipment that could not be imported easily.
“It is possible that some persons might have called the activists and asked them not to interfere with the IPL. But allegations that mobile phone conversations were being monitored are yet to be established,” he said.
Claiming that law-enforcing agencies had a standard procedure to follow when it came to monitoring the mobile phones of suspects, the official said service providers (telecom operators) were an essential part of such operations.
“It is not that we have some equipment to independently track the calls of somebody…the activity is registered at different levels and cannot be erased,” he said.