Ex-Intel Bureau Chief Named Accused No 1 In Telangana Phone-Tapping Row

Ex-Intel Bureau Chief Named Accused No 1 In Telangana Phone-Tapping Row

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Hyderabad:

Former Telangana Intelligence Bureau chief T Prabhakhar Rao has been named as Accused No 1 in the phone-tapping case that has roiled the state ahead of a general election. 

Mr Rao – on whose order reams of electronic data is said to have been gathered by illegally tapping the phones of opposition leaders during the earlier BRS government led by K Chandrashekar Rao – is reportedly in the United States. A look-out notice has been issued in his name.

Mr Rao’s home in Hyderabad have been searched, as have nearly a dozen other locations, including the residence of Shravan Rao, who runs a Telugu TV channel called I News.

Sharvan Rao – also believed to be out of the country – allegedly helped set up phone-tapping equipment (from Israel) and servers on the premises of a local school.

Another cop, Radha Kishan Rao – who was serving in the city task force – has also been named as an accused and a look-out notice has been issued for him as well.

Several other Telangana police officers are being investigated in connection with this case.

Three – Additional SPs Bhujanga Rao and Thirupathanna, and Deputy SP Praneeth Rao – have already been arrested. The police said Bhujanga Rao and Thirupathanna, arrested last week, had confessed to monitoring private persons illegally and destroying the evidence.

READ | Former Telangana Cop Arrested For Tapping Opposition Leaders’ Phones

Praneeth Rao was arrested earlier this month, and charged with developing profiles of unknown persons and monitoring their activity in an unauthorised manner, as well as destroying certain computer systems and data stored on electronic gadgets.

The evidence was reportedly destroyed on orders from Prabhakar Rao; the order was allegedly given a day after the Congress beat the BRS in the 2023 election. 

READ | Arrested Telangana Cop Said He Destroyed Intel On Boss’ Orders

The list of individuals whose devices were reportedly monitored include Chief Minister Revanth Reddy, and members of the BJP and Congress, as well as those from ex-Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao’s BRS. There are also reports that Telugu actors and businessmen were monitored too, and that many of them were blackmailed. 

Sources have said over one lakh phone calls were tapped.

Mr Reddy has vowed action and labelled Mr Rao a “present-day Qasim Rizi”. “Elements of the conspiracy are still under investigation, but there is a lot to come out…” he told NDTV.

Overall, at least 30 police officers are likely to be investigated as this can of worms is opened.

There are even rumours that a BRS leader could be implicated, which will turn the spotlight on the former Chief Minister’s party just days before a general election.

Telangana’s State Intelligence Bureau is supposed to keep tabs on left-wing extremism, but a team was reportedly gathering political intelligence and details of transactions made by opposition party leaders, sources have told NDTV.

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