Pakistan erects mobile towers near LoC, worries India

May 4th, 2008 - 10:41 am ICT by admin  

By Sahil Makkar
New Delhi, May 4 (IANS) In what Indian security officials find alarming, Pakistani mobile phone service providers are believed to have erected nine mobile towers in their territory along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir. In February this year, the Vigilance and Telecom Monitoring Cell of the Department of Telecommunications conducted a survey at 44 locations on the Indian side of the LoC - the de facto borderline that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan. It found that at 39 locations, Pakistani mobile signals reached Indian territory.

“Pakistan has erected nine mobile towers in its territory along the LoC with its signal reaching our side of the land,” a top security official told IANS on condition of anonymity.

“The move has caused serious security-related implications. The issue is presently under consideration at the ministry of home affairs. But we have already begun adopting a series of corrective measures,” the official added.

Another senior official who deals with insurgents and anti-nationals said: “The situation is alarming. Terrorists hiding in border areas are already taking advantage of the Pakistani mobile phone network to communicate with their chiefs in the neighbouring country.”

Until recently, militants have largely relied on wireless phones and satellite phones, which cost millions of rupees, as they are considered a safe mode of communication.

The availability of satellite phones has always been inadequate, due to their high cost, forcing anti-nationals to work in large groups and making them depend on each other for every bit of information and directions from their leaders.

But now officials fret that militants may change their modus operandi and divide themselves into smaller groups with each man carrying his own set of communication.

Mobile phones may supplement satellite phones, as it is difficult to put both on surveillance.

“Keeping a technical check on the movement and activities of militants has become more intricate and difficult. Earlier we used to copy their message and carry out our operations accordingly,” the official said.

“As we can’t ask Pakistani mobile service providers for phone tapping and call records, it will seriously hamper anti-terrorism operations in a significant way. The lapse may result in lethal attacks.”

A senior official of a paramilitary force said the Indian government has begun taking security measures.

“The security forces and the Intelligence Bureau have been equipped with GSM interceptors in some select areas in Jammu and Kashmir and the central government is mulling erecting some of its own towers to overcome the new challenge more effectively,” the official said.

“But the officials have to take permission from either the state home secretary or the union home secretary, explaining the reason for someone’s phone being put on surveillance,” the official added.

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