Altogether 17,000 of the 21,800 SIM cards found to be issued in excess of the permissible limit of nine mobile connections for one subscriber were deactivated in Bihar and Jharkhand in April and May so far, an official said on May 28.
Such a move was taken by the Department of Telecommunication through an analysis using artificial intelligence (AI)-based facial recognition technology, he said.
“The artificial intelligence and facial recognition-powered solution for Telecom SIM Subscriber Verification (ASTR) analysis by the DoT in April and May revealed that at least 21,800 mobile connections were issued violating the permissible limit of nine numbers for one subscriber in Bihar and Jharkhand.
“Around 17,000 such numbers have been disconnected. Further analysis is going on to identify such numbers,” a senior official of the Special Director General Telecom, DoT (Licensed Service Areas-LSA-Bihar) Office told PTI.
Jharkhand also comes under the jurisdiction of LSA (Bihar).
According to the existing guidelines of the DoT, an individual subscriber can acquire a maximum of nine mobile connections in total from telecom service providers in most parts of the country.
This upper limit is fixed at six for subscribers in Jammu and Kashmir, Assam and other northeastern states.
The DoT has recently launched a digital portal ‘Sanchar Saathi’ to empower mobile subscribers, strengthen their security and increase awareness about citizen-centric initiatives of the central government.
The portal facilitates citizens to find out the total number of mobile connections issued against a subscriber and also to trace or block SIMs for their lost phones.
It also facilitates them to report on mobile connections, which are either not required or not taken by a subscriber, the official said.
Notably, DoT has already deactivated more than 2.30 lakh mobile numbers in Bihar and Jharkhand in April and May thus far as the majority of these SIM cards were allegedly procured through forged documents.
Telecom service providers have also blacklisted 2,900 points of sales (PoS), which were “found to be involved in unethical and illegal practices while issuing SIM cards”, the official said.
The telecom service providers are initiating legal proceedings against these fraudulent PoS as well as subscribers, he said.
“The DoT, Patna Office is also in touch with the state police and has shared the intelligence devised out of ASTR analysis. The state police have also assured that suitable action will be initiated against SIM fraudsters,” the official said.
Bihar, after Jharkhand and West Bengal, is witnessing a rise in cyber crimes in eastern India.
Six districts – Patna, Nawada, Nalanda, Gaya, Sheikhpura and Jamui — are considered hotspots of cybercrime in the state, a police officer said. During investigations, it was found that cybercriminals in Nawada, Gaya, Nalanda, Jamui, and Sheikhpura districts of Bihar were working as associates for inter-state gangs operating from Rajasthan, Delhi, Jharkhand, and West Bengal, he added.