MHA to meet telcos on slow progress in SIM verification in J&K

The government has called an urgent meeting tomorrow with the telecom operators after reports of wide scale distribution of SIM cards in Jammu and Kashmir without verification was brought to its notice.

Updated: Jul 11, 2010, 20:40 PM IST

New Delhi: The government has called an
urgent meeting tomorrow with the telecom operators after
reports of wide scale distribution of SIM cards in Jammu and
Kashmir without verification was brought to its notice.

The meeting will be chaired by Union Home Secretary G K
Pillai, where representatives of Aircel, Airtel, RCom, the
Tatas, BSNL, Vodafone and Idea Cellular will be present.

During the meeting, the violations committed by these
operators while issuing mobile connections will be brought up.
It may be mentioned that the Union Home Ministry had asked
security agencies to conduct a secret audit of whether the
telecom operators were following the revised guidelines.

It was found that from out of a sample of 500 mobile
phones, in 65 per cent of the cases, the verification norms
were violated, thus raising security concerns.

During the meeting, a proposal of the Jammu and Kashmir
police for slapping heavy fines running into crores of rupees,
besides booking the violators under provisions of the Unlawful
Activities Disruption Act as well as under section 121 of the
IPC (waging war against the country) is likely to be
considered.

A notice for the meeting has gone out to seven operators
-- Aircel, Airtel, RCom, Tatas, BSNL, Vodafone and Idea
Cellular.

It said Pillai would meet the CEOs and MDs of these
operators on July 12 to discuss the reasons for slow progress
and continued gaps in cooperation on this matter.

The Department of Telecom (DoT), in consultation with the
Ministry of Home Affairs, had issued guidelines about six
months ago directing the mobile operators to complete the
process of subscriber verification in a time-bound manner in
view of the security concerns.

Sources in the know said that progress on this front has
been extremely slow and the security agencies have expressed
concerns on this front.

It can be recalled that use of mobile telephony in the
troubled states has been a matter of concern, with the Centre
banning the use of pre-paid mobile services on the pretext
that the service was being misused by terrorists.

The government lifted the ban (imposed in November, 2009)
on pre-paid mobile services in the state in January this year
after nearly two-and-a-half months, but on the condition that
the operators would do customer verification in the given
format at the earliest.

While lifting the ban, the government had issued fresh
guidelines which limited the number of connections to a
household to six.

The state has about 40 lakh pre-paid phone subscribers,
for which the verification would be undertaken by the telecom
operators following the revised guidelines for issuing a new
connection, the DoT had said.

The fresh guidelines stated that though no customer will
be given more than one pre-paid or post-paid connection, but
if an individual desires to avail more connections, he will
have to give reasons for it.

Under no circumstances will one household in the state be
entitled to more than six connections, it said.

PTI