Ethical hacker Manish Bhangale, who had accused former Maharashtra Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse of receiving calls from Dawood Ibrahim’s Karachi residence, was arrested on Friday merely on the basis of an FIR made by BJP leader Eknath Khadse’s supporter. So far, no inquiry has been carried out in the case by the investigation authorities, alleges AAP Maharashtra spokesperson Preeti Sharma Menon.
Hacker Manish Bhangale, came in limelight when last year he alleged BJP’s veteran leader Eknath Khadse had been speaking to underworld don Dawood Ibrahim through his mobile phone. Khadse, who held several key portfolios in the state Cabinet, resigned in June 2016 after facing a string of allegations including irregularities in a land deal along with this allegation. In a joint press conference with Preeti Sharma Menon, Bhangale had said that between September 2015 to April 2016, Khadse and Dawood had been in touch with each other. Later on, Maharashtra government ordered an investigation in the case. Bhangale later said the time period was actually January to April in 2015. It took investigating agencies a while retrieve records.
Bhangale produced documents to show that the Pakistan landline number that Khadse was allegedly calling was registered in the name of Dawood’s wife Mehjabeen. He also claimed he’d ethically hacked a Pakistan-based telecom operator, and showed documents with call data records from that operator. However, the cyber cell is yet to investigate the case and establish the facts.
When Afternoon Voice contacted Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) spokesperson Preeti Sharma Menon in this regards, she said “What they told media is not true. They have not even investigated whether the papers are forged or not yet.”
“Eknath Khadse has sent his close aide from Pune which seems to be Ravi Bharate (however, officials refrain to disclose his name), to file an FIR against Manish Bhangale, of forgery with Cyber Cell as according to them forgery was done on the internet. So, FIR was registered in Pune of forgery some 15 days ago. And merely on that FIR basis, Bhangale has been arrested in pressure without any investigations,” said Menon.
Ravi Sardesai is the Investigation Officer in the case.
Preeti further stated that she went to the BKC Cyber Cell Police Station and officer their confirmed that the FIR was filed 15 days ago by a person who is very close to Eknath Khadse (he refuses to disclose the name).
When asked about the further course of action, Menon said, “Bhangale has his lawyers and they’ll go and seek bail for him after his seven days police custody over. However, we are confidence that high court will stay the investigation as it has done in the case of Varun Kashyap case.”
“Whenever BJP’s agenda or their people come in trap, they twist the matter accusing a person who exposes them as fraudster, forger or a liar. Fortunately in Bhangale’s case, police has not framed any charges on him and arrested merely on FIR and police has yet to investigate in the matter. However, police has passed wrong information to media that he already forged the paper, which is wrong. Let me clear that he is not arrested in the ongoing investigation in the Eknath Khadse-Dawood Ibrahim link. The investigations are yet to be done,” she added.
“The Pakistan telecom papers had been picked up from the Internet. So, we registered a case sometime back and arrested him on Thursday for cheating. “We need to know what his intentions were for doing this. Till now, we were checking the authenticity of documents. We have also applied the IT Act against him,” said Sanjay Saxena, Joint Commissioner of Mumbai Police.
The agency wants to find out whether Bhangale had any malaise intentions for levelling such allegations against Khadse, or if someone had instigated him to do so. Police will produce Bhangale in court and will seek further custody. An offence was registered against Bhangale under IPC sections 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (using as genuine a forged document or electronic record) read with 66 D of the Information Technology Act, the official said.
However, some of the ethical hackers, whom AV spoke to, said his way of exposing was totally wrong.
Ankur, a Hacker and Analyst said, “I do agree that whatever Manish Bhangale did was unethical and was not the right way to bring out a truth. The arrest of Manish is legal and within the law. However, you cannot underestimate the point one tries to make. In India now, everything depends on Department of Justice, if they ignore the issues brought up by someone or a hacker; a thorough investigation should be carried out before making things public or claiming it forge.”
Another ethical hacker doesn’t buy the fact that one should be a hacker to do forgery. Kai Farmer, a well known ethical hacker and security Analyst said, “It doesn’t take any hacker/ethical hacker’s brain to do forgery of documents. Forge documents can be prepared by anyone. It’s clear that there was no authenticity of the evidence which were provided by Manish. Anything coming from the hackers should not be considered as evidence, unless and until provided by the verified service providers.”
“Ethical hackers have the capacity to give any evidence with hardcore proofs. He cannot provide just self-made phone records. Fake call records can even be made by school kids. In the end all that matters, is what people believe on,” he added.