Telangana snooping row: SIB team allegedly tapped phones of 1,200 people, claims arrested cop

Hyderabad: Phones of about 1,200 people, including political rivals, their family members and supporters, judges, journalists, and business persons were tapped by a special team in Telangana’s Special Intelligence Bureau (SIB) under the previous BRS government, according to a suspended police officer and a key accused in the sensational phone tapping case.

D. Praneeth Rao, who headed the Special Operations Team in the SIB under the supervision of then SIB chief Prabhakar Rao, made some sensational revelations in his confession before the investigating officials.

He revealed that ahead of the November 2023 Assembly elections, the team snooped on leaders of opposition parties, and their funders and intercepted the vehicles transferring money.

The confession of Praneeth Rao, a Deputy Superintendent of Police in the SIB, came to light after similar statements of former Deputy Commissioner of Police Radha Kishan Rao and Additional Superintendents of Police N. Bhujanga Rao and M. Thirupathanna.

Praneeth Rao revealed that they prepared profiles of political rivals of the BRS with the help of a technological tool, provided by a private company.

Praneeth Rao, the first to be arrested in the case which came to light in March after the Congress formed the government, stated that 17 computers and special servers were used for phone tapping. As many as 56 personnel of the SOT were used for the operation.

He reportedly confessed to doing certain unofficial works as he was indebted to Prabhakar Rao for promoting him as DSP. He was operating from two rooms allotted to him next to Prabhakar Rao’s chamber in the SIB office.

Before the 2023 Assembly elections, the team also tapped the phones of candidates of rival parties and seized money from their funders, relatives and aides. The information was passed on to police officials Radha Kishan Rao, Bhujanga Rao and Thirupathanna so they could intercept the money. The seized money was shown as hawala money so that the Election Commission did not get suspicious about the seizures.

Praneeth Rao also revealed that the phones of dissidents within the ruling party were also tapped. He also confessed that after Congress came to power, Prabhakar Rao directed him to stop phone tapping and also allegedly directed him to destroy records before his resignation. He claimed that 50 hard discs were destroyed with a cutter in the SIB office and old servers were replaced with new ones.

When he wanted to switch off CCTV cameras in the logger room before destroying the hard discs, the in charge of CCTV cameras refused to give permission but he told him that Prabhakar Rao had given the orders and warned that if the in charge failed to obey, a memo would be issued.

Praneeth Rao stated that he destroyed the evidence between 7.30 p.m. and 8.15 p.m. on December 4, 2023. He dumped the destroyed CDs in the Musi River at Nagole and Moosaram Bagh. The CDR and IDPR equipment was burnt down. Reformatted phones and pen drivers were thrown in the Begumpet nala.


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