This pursuit — such as zeroing in on suspect mobile numbers from thousands in use around a crime scene — was once a tough task that considerably slowed down investigators. It involved days of poring through mountains of data.
Now it is just a matter of a click of a button, thanks to the contribution of a 37-year-old Muslim college dropout from Belgaum who drove an autorickshaw by night to fund his computer education.
A small company Saleem Landur started in 2000 in a room with a computer he hired for Rs 1,500 is now at the forefront of creating software tools for what police call CDR analysis or call detail record analysis.
The NIA, CBI, police units in Karnataka, Gujarat, Bihar, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and even police in Nigeria and Algeria now have software tools designed by Landur’s Prosoft e-Solutions to help them track digital footprints of criminals.
Landur’s firm has 25 employees, a branch in Madhya Pradesh, and is setting up a Bangalore development centre. Landur also collaborates with Nasscom’s Data Security Council of India to train hundreds of law enforcement officials in the use of technology in investigations.
Prosoft’s C5 CDR analyzer tool is in its 4.0 version and “processes terabytes of data, billions of records on low-end servers within seconds”, Landur said.
It analyzes and integrates call data for cell phones including tower location data, and provides investigators with simple representations of patterns of communication including geographical location of a caller, their movement or even alerts when two suspects communicate.
The analyzer also interacts with social networking sites and can fetch data such as phone numbers and names.
“This is a service rendered to law enforcement agencies by Saleem Landur since big IT companies tend to shy away from such work since they consider it too small,” said Bangalore Police Commissioner Raghavendra Auradkar, who used Landur’s services in 2009 when he was commissioner in Belgaum, to track the killers of a goldsmith.
Tracking the killers also solved the May 2008 bomb blast in a Hubli court for which Islamist militants were initially suspected. It was eventually found to be the work of a criminal gang with affiliations to Hindu extremists.
Landur dropped out of a polytechnic in Belgaum and took up a computer course in 1993 because he “realized information technology is the future”.
“In 1993, the computer course fee was Rs 23,000. I could not afford it so I drove an autorickshaw at night to pay for the course,” he said, adding that his earnings were supplemented with contributions from a local businessman.
“My passion was to develop high-end software and this led me to start Prosoft. My only inspiration was my passion for IT,” he says.
While Prosoft initially dabbled in creating a health systems software for a district in Karnataka, it took to CDR analysis for police in a big way after Landur was encouraged by B Dayananda, now an IGP rank officer and director of Bangalore’s Forensic Science Laboratory.
Dayananda, who worked with Landur to develop the C5 CDR analyzer, said it is in use across Karnataka and has been quite successful in solving several complicated cases.
“Earlier, only tech-savvy officers had knowledge of CDR analysis. Nowadays, most police personnel have very good knowledge of it. In the last few years, CDR analysis has played a vital role in almost all cases and has proved to be a very useful tool for investigating officers,” says Landur.