Mystery Persists-Services Resume

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SRINAGAR: Most of the mobile transmission towers shut down following recent threats and attacks by mysterious elements in many parts of Kashmir Valley started functioning Wednesday, reports reaching here said. 

Out of 2,903 towers of various telecom companies installed across Kashmir valley, 1,058 towers had been shut down due to attacks and threats to landlords in whose premises the equipment was installed, according to highly placed police sources. 

Police, with the assistance of the telecom companies, has made 609 mobile transmission towers functional within a short span, they said, a day after Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed directed the police to provide security to mobile towers and those managing them, saying people cannot be pushed into stone age. 

On Tuesday, Sayeed had directed police to ensure restoration of mobile phone services. While as militant amalgam United Jihad Council (UJC) as well as Hurriyat Conference headed by Syed Ali Shah Geelani had also appealed people associated with the telecommunication business to resume their routine work.

Well placed sources said that the restoration was possible only after increased security and patrolling around the mobile phone masts. Many others attribute the restoration to the UJC and Hurriyat statements.

UJC had urged people to catch hold of the culprits trying to attack the installations or threatening traders.

Sopore, a police district, was the worst-hit area where all but two of the 177 towers were shut down in the wake of a series of attacks by newly floated Lashkar-e-Islam outfit, that led to death of two persons and injuries to three others. 

The sources said police has been able to restore 59 towers — mostly hub sites and those located close to security forces camps and police stations. 

In Baramulla district, excluding Sopore, 110 of the 185 affected towers have been restored while in Srinagar — the summer capital of the state — 91 of the 141 affected towers have been restored. 

Srinagar has a tower strength of 714. 

Anantnag district in south Kashmir and Kupwara, barring Handwara police district, in north were unaffected by the crisis. 

None of the 485 towers in these two districts were affected by the militant activities in the district and have been functional. 

Out of 123 towers in Pulwama district, 101 towers were affected by the militant threats while more than 50 per cent of the 140 towers were shutdown in Awantipora police district, the sources said. 

The Deputy Inspector General (DIG) North Kashmir, Garib Dass, said the 90 percent of the mobile services have been restored in the region. “We have restored 90 percent of the telecommunication network in north Kashmir including at Kupwara, Handwara, Sopore, Baramulla, Pattan and Bandipora,” the DIG said, adding: “Now, there are places where we have technical shortages and we are working to restore that as well.”

The senior officer said proper security arrangements have been made for mobile towers and “special teams” have been constituted for the safety of mobile masts. “Policemen would be deployed at sensitive places. The patrolling would be carried out. There would be round the clock security and in coming one or two days, the services would be fully restored,” he said.

The ongoing mobile phone crisis have its roots in Sopore where on May 1, last month,  suspected militants  raided telecom outlets of Airtel, Vodafone and Aircel reportedly after their “hi-tech communication device” fitted atop on a mobile mast was removed by Airtel officials. 

Following the raid, posters of previously unknown Lashkar-e-Islam emerged in parts of Sopore calling telecom officials and people associated with it to wind up the business or face bullets. The outfit blamed mobile phones for the killing of top militants in the town. The threats followed spate of attacks including on telecom officials and retailers which left two people dead.

In south Kashmir, police said “100 percent” mobile phone services have been restored. “We have restored 100 percent telecom services across the south,” the DIG south Kashmir, Nitesh Kumar said. “In case need arises, we may shift those towers which are sensitive places to safer security zones,” he added.

Police in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal and Srinagar districts said that over 90 percent of the network has been restored and they are maintain strict vigil over the situation. “In Ganderbal, only two towers are non-functional and that too because of technical faults,” police said.

In Srinagar city, sources said the police was preparing list of land owners who have installed towers on their premises. 

Towers may be shifted to near security posts

Srinagar:  State police chief K Rajindra on Wednesday said that the telecom towers may be shifted near security posts to improve safety.

Talking to KNS, the Director General of Police K Rajendra said that the police is seriously dealing with the situation and would ensure that the communications across Kashmir valley are restored at an earliest. He said further “telecom towers may be shifted near security posts to improve safety. “Wherever the need arises for providing security to towers, we will provide it,” he said.”

Earlier impressing upon the police officers to ensure smooth functioning of communication network in the Valley, he called for putting in place effective security measures for the cellular companies working in the Valley. He said the communication breakdown in some parts of the Valley by subversive elements has affected the business, banking and educational activities, which is great concern.

Mr. Rajendra was chairing a senior police officers meeting of South Kashmir held at Range Headquarters here today. He said that the subversive elements have always tried to disrupt the congenial atmosphere, which has added the sufferings of common people in the Valley. He reiterated that Jammu and Kashmir Police is well prepared to foil the designs of subversive elements. He directed the officers to deal the situation firmly so that people would not suffer. Adequate security would be provided to the network installations and their safety would be ensured at all cost.

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