Bangladesh suspends mobile services along Indian border

The Bangladesh government suspended mobile networks along the borders with India, citing security reasons “in the current circumstances”, a move that will affect around 10 million users in the area.

The operators suspended the networks on Monday within one kilometre of the borders with India, the Dhaka Tribune reported.

The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), in its order to telecommunications service providers — Grameenphone, Teletalk, Robi and Banglalink — on Sunday said network coverage in the border areas should be suspended until further notice “for the sake of the country’s security in the current circumstances”.

“A high-level meeting of the government took this decision, following which the instructions were issued,” BTRC Chairman Jahurul Haque was quoted.

Some 2,000 transceiver stations were shut in 32 districts that share a border with India and Myanmar, which could affect 10 million people.

“This decision will certainly have an impact since a large segment of citizens in the border areas will be out of the range of the internet, voice and other services,” Brigadier General SM Farhad (retired) , secretary-general at the Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh said.

The Bangladesh government’s directive came days after India passed the Citizenship Amendment Act or CAA.

The controversial law provides citizenship to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, Christian communities but except Muslims from neighbouring Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Critics have argued that it goes against the secular fabric of India, while north eastern states of India feel threatened of becoming minority in their own state.

The recently concluded NRC in the state of Assam excluded 19 lakh people from the list, leaving them stateless.

Bangladesh who has been upset with the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAA) and the NRC have asked a list of Bangladeshi nationals living illegally in India.

Two key ministries from Bangladesh cancelled visit to India, further deteriorating relations with India.

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