A Border Security Force (BSF) official in Barmer received three phone calls from a man, who introduced himself as a squadron leader of India Air Force and asked for strategic sensitive information about operational preparedness.

The BSF official, however, snubbed the caller for seeking sensitive information over the phone. The BSF also alerted the local IAF authorities, and the police.

Local officials suspect that it were ‘spoof calls’, which are usually place through internet and where caller id displays the call as having originated from a place other than the true originating station.

As per the BSF, of the three calls he received on October 9, two showed originating from Andhra Pradesh and one from Delhi. In all the calls, a man, who introduced himself as Squadron Leader Abhishek and claimed that the BSG and IAF are planning a joint exercise for which he needs some information.

The BSF official refused to share the information and instead asked the caller to send the local officer to BSF office with authorized letter. At this the caller disconnected the call.

“We have shared the matter with the local IAF authorities, police and district administration. We are also investigating the matter,” said local BSF office.

Superintendent of police, Barmer, Gagandeep Singla, confirmed that on Wednesday BSF officials met him and given him in writing a complaint against the spoofing calls.

SP said that they contacted the IAF headquarters in Delhi and inquired about the number from which BSF official had got the call. The Delhi IAF officials said that no call was possible from that number.

Asked if the call could have been made by someone working for Pakistan, Singla said, “We have got the complaint and launched the probe. Such calls are made through internet, which makes it difficult to track them. We are trying to get more details from the BSF.”

According to Singla, in the past too Pakistan-based intelligence operatives had many made such calls to the various departments and tried to track the strategic sensitive information. “Considering the past history we are not ruling out the possibilities of a Pakistan connection in this matter. Detailed investigation would reveal more facts,” the SP said.

Not the first such case

In February 2016, former Barmer SP Paris Deshmukh received a phone call --- from 7065327011 --- from a man who introduced himself as a DGP-rank IPS officer of 1961 batch of J&K cadre. The man asked for some sensitive strategic information. The caller also asked the SP to ask the IAF station’s wing commander to call him. When SP refused to do the bidding, the caller said that he knew Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Rajasthan DGP Rajasthan and will ensure that Deshmukk gets suspended.

In February 2016, state Intelligence Agency and Barmer police arrested four postal department employees --- two from Balotra in Barmer and two from Pokhran in Jaisalmer --- for spying for Pakistan’s intelligence agency. During investigation, it came to fore that these employees had received calls from a man who introduced himself as an Indian army officer and asked them for some information through e-mail. The postal department employees, taken in by the call, had shared the information related to an Army exercise.

In December 2015, an employee at Jaisalmer BSNL office received a call from a man who introduced himself as an Army officer and asked for some India Army related details. That attempt too was successful as the employee shared information pertaining to an Army exercise over phone. It was later revealed that the caller had hacked a Delhi number and called the BSNL employee.

In June 2014, a man introducing himself as an Indian Army officer called up Barmer deputy conservator of forests from a Pakistan number and tried to extract information of forest land near army and air force establishments. However, at that time Laxman Lal, deputy conservator of forests, suspecting it to be fake a call, had refused to share the information.