Staff Reporter

He tried to extort money threatening to make the matter public

NEW DELHI: Ankit Srivastava (28), who allegedly hacked into the computer data bank of mobile phone service provider Airtel and stole call details of over two-dozen phones belonging to officials holding highly sensitive posts in the Prime Minister's Office, Union Home Ministry and Delhi police, has been arrested by the Special Cell. The accused was trying to extort money from Airtel threatening to make the matter public.

A few days ago, Airtel authorities contacted the police alleging that a person had gained unauthorised access to their computer system and stolen call details of phone connections allotted to government functionaries occupying sensitive posts. The hacker approached them a couple of days ago and demanded a huge sum to keep the matter under wraps.

The culprit had also tried to access call details of mobile numbers belonging to Police Commissioner K.K. Paul, Joint Commissioner of Police (Special Cell) Karnal Singh, and some other officers of the Joint Commissioner rank.

The Special Cell traced the alleged offender to his Indira Puram flat in Ghaziabad where he lived along with his brother, who is an employee with an Indian computer firm.

His father is Joint Commissioner in the Sales Tax Department in Agra. Two of his relatives are senior Indian Police Service officers. The police claim to have recovered a compact disc containing the stolen call details from Ankit. They have also seized his laptop. Initial probe revealed that the hacker tried to obtain the details of about 60 phones, but could manage to extract data pertaining to just over two-dozen phones.

He was produced on Tuesday in the court of Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate who remanded him to seven-day police custody.

The police are probing if Ankit had hacked into the data at anybody's instigation. They are trying to find out whether any media group had conducted a sting operation. "Some more arrests in the case are likely," said a senior police officer.