1800 sites down, security beefed up around mobile towers

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In search of network in Srinagar

SRINAGAR: A day after unidentified persons attacked a cellular tower in Srinagar; mobile services in most parts of Kashmir valley got affected with people moving from one place to another in search of a network.

Tower owners while suspending the operations have said that they are scared of being attacked.

Services remained affected in various areas of Srinagar due to the erratic networks, giving tough time to people to connect with their dear ones.

Most of the cellular companies operating in Srinagar gave affected networks to their subscribes due to which the call drops and voice break became order of the day.

People say all together, the entire set up remained suspended due to which the normal life virtually came on a stand still mode.

Reports said that north Kashmir’s Sopore, Handwara and in south Kashmir Pulwama towns were worst hit.

At least 1800 sites of different telecommunication companies are non-functional all across Kashmir resulting in communication breakdown. 

CNS reported that out of 1400 sites, 650 sites of Bharti Airtel are not in operation while out of 1100 sites, 619 Aircel sites are non-functional. There are 486 2G sites of BSNL in Kashmir Valley out of which 129 sites are down while out of 207 3G BSNL sites 70 are non-operational due to recent attacks and threats on people associated with telecommunication business directly or indirectly.

Official sources admitted that more than 200 BTSs went out of service in Srinagar city in just hours after the blast at Habbakadal. “On Tuesday security was beefed up in sensitive parts of Srinagar city. We have deployed policemen in and around mobile towers in Hyderpora, Jahangir Chowk, Habakadal and other parts of the city,” a police official said.

Reports said that security personnel were seen on the roof tops of the elevated buildings keeping vigil on the suspects. Pertinently, all the BSNL franchises have closed their outlets in all the ten districts of Kashmir valley from Monday morning as a result subscribers are unable to recharge their cell phones. BSNL internet service has also affected in a big way.

A top police official said that police would restore operation on all the non-functional towers “within three days” with the deployment of armed guards. “We will relocate and set up some of the towers at protected premises”, he said.

According to the Telecom sources, currently there were around 9,000 BTSs in the Valley. As two or three companies share a tower and install their BTSs on a tower, the number of the BTSs of BSNL, Airtel, Aircel, Vodafone, Reliance and Idea Cellular closed down in Kashmir in the last seven days was estimated to be over 3,000.

Meanwhile, the BSNL mobile phone Tower Owners Association in Kashmir on Tuesday said that they have decided to close mobile phone towers till June 10 and they will not operate before this date. “We want to give time to the government to take steps for our safety. We will restart service after we are sure of our safety,” said a spokesman of the Association.” 

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