Bangladesh shuts down mobile network along India border amid fears of deportation

Source: Xinhua| 2020-01-01 17:17:54|Editor: Xiaoxia
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DHAKA, Jan. 1 (Xinhua) -- Citing security concerns, the Bangladeshi government has ordered the country's all four cell phone operators to shut down services along the border with India.

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) this week issued the order to the operators -- Grameenphone, Robi, Airtel and Teletalk, an official said on Wednesday.

According to the BTRC official who declined to give his name, all the operators have already suspended mobile networks within one kilometer of the borders with India.

"Four operators closed around 2,000 base transceiver stations through which they provided smooth mobile network services to some 1 million Bangladesh people," said the official.

The BTRC in its order to the operators said they have to suspend mobile network coverage in the border areas "for the sake of the country's security in the current circumstances."

The Bangladeshi government's move reportedly came in the wake of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's new citizenship law which critics in parts of the world say discriminates against Muslims.

The law aims at granting citizenship to illegal immigrants belonging to six religions - Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, Parsi and Christianity - from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan. However, it has kept out Muslim immigrants from applying for citizenship.

Against this backdrop, there has been widespread speculation here that Indian Muslims may flee to Bangladesh amid fears of deportation in India.

"Mobile network shutdown is aimed at foiling any possible of bid of Indians to enter Bangladesh with support of their friends and well wishers in our country," said a Home Ministry official who declined to be named.

Bangladeshi border guards have recently detained 238 people, who fled from India.