The Bangladesh government has begun monitoring mobile and fixed-line phone calls.

The state-run National Telecommunication Monitoring Centre (NTMC), now under an intelligence agency, has started functioning directly under the home ministry to track mobile and fixed-line phone calls for identifying and locating suspected criminals, including members of militant outfits in Bangladesh.

The agency has formally started its activities under the home ministry, according to a decision of an inter-ministerial meeting, held at the ministry in Dhaka on Tuesday.

Home Minister Dr Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir, state Minister for Home Affairs Shamsul Haque Tuku, senior secretary of the home ministry, Mostaque Ahmed, inspector general of police, Hassan Mahmood Khandker, chiefs of different intelligence agencies and the officials of the ministries concerned attended the meeting.

Tuku later told reporters that the NTMC had formally commenced its activities under the home ministry from Sunday as per Clause 97 (Ka) of the Bangladesh Telecommunications (amended) Act, 2006.

“We have asked the authorities to appoint necessary personnel as soon as possible for running the watchdog,” he said. “The NTMC will become a separate directorate under the home ministry,” the state minister added.

Sources at the meeting said it had been decided to provide 130mn taka to the NTMC under the budgetary allocation.

According to sources, the meeting discussed cybercrimes committed using mobile subscriber identity modules (SIMs) and re-usable identification modules (RUIMs).

At a meeting held at the home ministry on March 31, 2010, it was decided the NTMC would be put under the home ministry, which would directly instruct and monitor its activities and also co-ordinate activities among the government, intelligence agencies and law enforcement agencies.

The home ministry issued a directive to the intelligence agencies to collect necessary information related to phone calls from mobile operators.

The NTMC comprises members of different intelligence agencies, such as the directorate general of forces intelligence (DGFI), the special security force (SSF), the national security intelligence (NSI), the special branch (SB) of police and the rapid action battalion (RAB).

Members of the NTMC are tracking phone calls of criminals, suspected war criminals, militants, political leaders and others across Bangladesh to know more about their activities. Not just the NTMC, but also intelligence units of law enforcement agencies, like the rapid action battalion, the criminal investigation department (CID) and the Special Branch (SB), are tracking phone calls.

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