Anti-terrorism measure creates terrorism
A move by the Indian government to ban prepaid mobile
phones in a bid to stop terrorism is back-firing. The move was to stop terrorists using untraceable prepaid
mobile phones from being used by Terrorists to plan their raids.
But in the Indian-controlled Kashmir region impoverished
residents depend on prepaid connections for inexpensive communication. Apparently the move has led to angry protests amid
warnings it put thousands of jobs at risk and jeopardised peace efforts
in the disputed territory between the Indian government and Muslim
The Indian government announced last month that no new
cards would be issued beginning November 1. Home Minister P. Chidambaram said last week during a
visit to Jammu-Kashmir, India's only Muslim-majority state said
that it had reconcile the security of the country. India has shut off the internet and international calls
in Kashmir for a year after a string of attacks it blamed on militants
supported by Pakistan.
Mobile phones were first allowed in the territory in 2003
and the telecommunication industry quickly filled the vacuum,
with giant companies like Airtel Bharti, Tata Indicom and Vodafone
as well as the state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam opening more than 50,000
retail outlets across the region.
Basheer Ahmed Dar, the chairman of the regional telephone
owners association, said 20,000 jobs were in jeopardy when the
ban goes ahead. Hundreds of activists from the pro-India People's
Democratic Party demonstrated against the decision in Srinagar, accusing
the government of discrimination. Members of trade organisations took to
the streets this week.
There are 3 million prepaid card subscriptions in the
region, according to the Home Ministry. The cheaper cards are highly
popular among young people. The government has promised that it will review the ban
once security concerns are addressed, but since there is no sign of
Pakistan and India becoming chums and world terrorism ending it seems a long