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DoT’s ‘Sanchar Saathi’ Initiative Exposes 21 Lakh SIM Cards Activated Illegally

DoT’s action against 21 lakh SIMs with fake IDs to fight cyber crime & secure digital India.



साइबर अपराधियों पर पुलिस का बड़ा एक्शन, एक साल में ब्लॉक किए 1 लाख 36 हजार सिम कार्ड

NEW DELHI: To tackle the rising wave of cyber crimes and online frauds in India, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has unearthed over 21 lakh SIM cards activated using fake or forged identity and address documents. Following an exhaustive pan-India analysis by the DoT’s Artificial Intelligence & Digital Intelligence Unit (AI&DIU), major telecom service providers including Bharti Airtel, MTNL, BSNL, Reliance Jio, and Vodafone Idea have been alerted to urgently re-verify the documents of suspicious subscribers and disconnect those identified with bogus credentials.

The rigorous scrutiny, part of the government’s ‘Sanchar Saathi’ initiative aimed at safeguarding citizens from unauthorized mobile connections, involved an analysis of 114 crore mobile phone connections. The findings revealed that a staggering 21.08 lakh connections were supported by invalid, non-existent, or counterfeit documents. Additionally, the AI&DIU team discovered cases where individuals held more than the permitted nine SIM cards across different service providers, further exacerbating the potential for misuse in cyber crimes.

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Mukesh Mangal, deputy director-general of AI&DIU, emphasized the ongoing nature of this nationwide data cleansing operation. The process involves not only the disconnection of SIMs activated with fraudulent documents but also the disabling of associated mobile handsets to curb criminal activities facilitated by such connections. This stringent measure aims to enhance the accuracy and reliability of data shown to citizens using the ‘Sanchar Saathi’ portal, empowering them to manage mobile connections issued in their name effectively.

The operation has led to a significant reduction in cyber crimes, with a noted increase in public awareness and reporting of such incidents. “Since we are curtailing the mobile phone-based activities of the criminals, the incidence of online frauds would have certainly come down,” stated Mangal. The initiative is expected to result in widespread disconnections of SIM cards found to be in violation, with telecom service providers given a specific timeframe to complete the verification and disconnection process in strict compliance with DoT guidelines.

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Supporting this initiative, Tamil Nadu Director-General of Police Shankar Jiwal highlighted the critical challenge posed by SIM cards activated with fake documents. According to Jiwal, nearly 90% of online fraud crimes are committed using such SIMs, with the financial losses from these crimes now vastly exceeding those from conventional crimes. This crackdown aims to address a significant loophole exploited by criminals to evade detection and prosecution by law enforcement.

The DoT’s collaborative efforts with telecom service providers and law-enforcing agencies mark a critical step towards a safer and more secure digital environment for citizens across India.


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