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Guidelines may hit mobile users in NE
Published on 26 Sep. 2010 12:11 AM IST
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Though the level of violence various parts of the Northeast is coming down gradually and the overall situation in the region is much better than the States affected by violence unleashed by the Maoist rebel groups, government of India issued fresh guidelines for use of mobile phones on “security grounds” for the region.
Official sources said that the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) recently issued fresh guidelines to the mobile phone service providers as per which, the security safeguards applicable to Jammu & Kashmir and major parts of NE region have been imposed. DoT has also ordered fresh verification of the documents of the existing pre-paid customers, which would be a Herculean task.
At present, eight companies are providing mobile services in NE, two more are likely to be introduced soon. As per the records, more than 1.58 crore customers use mobile phones in NE, of whom nearly one crore are in Assam. Mobile phone service providers told The Assam Tribune around 95 percent of the total mobile phone users are using pre-paid services and fresh verification of the documents of all of them within a short time would not be possible.
The new guidelines will make it much more difficult for the common people to use mobile phone services and even the existing customers of the pre-paid services would have to provide the documents enlisted in the new guidelines to avoid disconnection of their phones.
The certificates issued by the MLA, MP or gazetted officers would no longer be valid for proving the proof of identity of a person seeking mobile connections. Similarly, the certificates and photo identity issued by village panchayat head or equivalent authority would not be considered valid. Interestingly, electricity bills, fixed or landline phone bills or water supply bills will not be considered as proof of address.
Meanwhile, security sources said that there have been instances of militants obtaining mobile phone SIM cards using false papers and the government of India decided to make the rules more stringent to prevent misuse of phones by anti-national elements.
However, security sources also admitted that tracking of mobile phone calls also led to a number of successful operations by the security forces in recent times and in one such case, the police managed to prevent a blast in the city after tracking calls made by a militant. At present, different central and state government agencies including state Police, Intelligence Bureau and Army are tracking the calls of the suspects and under licence conditions, the mobile service providers are bound to allow tracking of calls of the numbers specified on the basis of requests coming from prescribed authorities.

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