Andhra Pradesh

Android phones gave away Maoists location

Police personnel carrying the body of a Maoist killed in an exchange of fire in Malkangiri earlier this week. Photo: C.V. Subrahmanyam  

VISAKHAPATNAM: The apparent ignorance of Maoists on how the android system-supported mobile phones work has dealt a huge blow to them in the last few days.

Leaders and cadres of the CPI (Maoist) party have adopted technology for a range of activities — from making rocket-launchers to using laptops for strategy planning. Mobile phones with the android system are no exception. There have been reports of the underground cadre enjoying entertainment on their mobiles and taking selfies.

The selfie of a top party leader operating in the Andhra-Odisha Border special zonal committee, Ramachandra Reddy alias Chalapathi, and his wife Aruna, another important leader, is an example. Their fancy for selfies resulted in the police getting their latest photos.

Disaster struck, thanks to the leaders and cadres using android mobiles as they could be easily tracked. They lost 30 leaders and cadres in the three encounters or exchanges of fire that took place from Monday to Thursday in the Malkangiri district of Odisha along the border with Andhra Pradesh.

They, like many, must have believed that switching off the mobile would be enough to avoid being tracked. But the fact is, the android system continues to work even after the phone is switched off, like the clock in the mobile showing the latest time when switched on, much after being switched off.

G.S.N. Raju, former Vice-Chancellor, Andhra University, who worked as a professor of electronics and communication engineering, and has done extensive work in antennas, electromagnetic wave theory and related fields, says although no incoming and outgoing calls are possible when the mobile is switched off, the SIM is engaged and all devices supported by the android system are engaged and available for the satellite to be tracked. The system stops working only when the mobile’s battery is removed.

It is believed that the police keep track of mobile phones of those who are suspected to be in contact with the Maoists. With the help of GPS, they zeroed in on the mobiles of Maoists run on the android system and found their location, even as the Maoists were under the impression that their mobiles could not be tracked because they were switched off.

Mobile signal is available at some places atop the tall Eastern Ghat hills. Since these places are cut off from the habitations, the Maoists usually make calls believing that they cannot be located.

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Printable version | Oct 31, 2020 1:53:10 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/Android-phones-gave-away-Maoists-location/article16084645.ece

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