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Why Mumbai shops today say 'SIM Cards Unavailable'

Last updated on: October 4, 2010 13:55 IST

Why Mumbai shops today say 'SIM Cards Unavailable'

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In an astonishing revelation, Mumbai Police in a survey has found that 60 per cent of prepaid SIM cards were procured using fake documents in the city.

Besides, mobile service providers, the city police held vendors equally responsible for providing prepaid SIM cards without proper verification and cracked down on them, prompting several shops in city and suburbs to put up a notice saying "SIM Cards Not Available."

The police drive comes days after an email purportedly sent by the banned outfit Indian Mujahideen claimed responsibility for the attacks outside the historic Jama Masjid in the national capital.

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Photographs: Richard Wheeler/Wikimedia Commons
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Internet connection of a mobile phone that had Tata Docomo SIM card was used to send the e-mail soon after the attacks outside the Jama Masjid. It was not clear if either prepaid or post-paid SIM card was used to send the mail.

"It is worrying to find out that 60 per cent of the 15,000 prepaid SIM cards were issued by vendors without proper verification of documents. We have randomly taken up 15000 prepaid SIM card details and when our men verified them, this startling revelation has come to their notice," Mumbai Police Commissioner Sanjeev Dayal told PTI.

"With a target to sell more prepaid SIM cards and entail commission, the vendors cannot put the norms at bay. They should verify the addresses and other documents provided by the card seekers," he added.


Image: A man makes a phone call on his mobile phone in front of an advertisement for Reliance in Mumbai
Photographs: Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters
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"The mobile service providers have also been asked to verify the documents of SIM card seekers properly," Dayal said.

Last month, two unidentified motorcycle-borne persons had shot and injured two Taiwanese nationals outside Jama Masjid in New Delhi, which was followed by a crude pressure cooker bomb blast in a car in the same area.

The IM claimed responsibility for the attack and threatened terror strikes during the Games.

Based on the description given by a dealer in central Mumbai from where the SIM card was procured and used to sent the email, the ATS and Crime Branch have also prepared several sketches.

According to the dealer, a youth in his mid-twenties, procured two SIM cards in the name of women using forged documents.


Image: A man walks past a large logo of Vodafone displayed on a shop in Mumbai
Photographs: Arko Datta/Reuters
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But the vendors feel that it was the responsibility of the service provider to verify the identity proof given by the SIM card seeker.

"The service providers should verify the documents and their executives should be sent to the addresses to check the authenticity," said a vendor, who owns an electronics shop in Agripada.

How can the service providers or the police expect us to verify the documents, he asked.


Image: A woman walks past a billboard in Mumbai
Photographs: Arko Datta/Reuters
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