No mobile phone service to Rohingyas: BTRC
Published : Tuesday, 3 September, 2019 at 12:00 AM Count : 908
The government directed all mobile phone operators not to provide mobile phone services to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.
Officials of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) said Posts, Telecommunication and Information Technology Minister Mustafa Jabbar directed the authorities to take steps in this regard.
After getting minister's directives, the BTRC on Monday sent a common letter to four mobile operators to stop selling SIMs to the Rohingya refugees and take proper action so that no Rohingyas can use mobile connections.
The letter signed by BTRC Deputy Director
Nahidul Hasan said the phone operators had also been asked to inform the BTRC within next seven working days the measures taken in this regard.
The step has been taken with a view to protecting national security, it said.
"You are instructed to ensure that the Rohingya people do not get access to the mobiles for the sake of state security and importance, law and order and public safety," says the directive.
"The commission has received information through the Rohingya camp visiting committees and various newspapers, media outlets, law enforcement and intelligence agencies that Rohingya community is using SIMs/RIMs on a large scale," the BTRC said.
"Under this circumstances, you are requested not to sale any SIM, to stop the use of the SIM by the Rohingya community and ensure that the Rohingya community is not provided with mobile facilities."
Besides, the BTRC has reiterated the same directive they issued in October last year asking all mobile operators to restrict their networks in the Bangladesh-Myanmar border areas as well as block networks in and around Rohingya camps.
Officials said following the directive, mobile operators have weakened their networks in the border areas along with Myanmar, which include Cox's Bazar and Bandarban.
But the restriction has not stopped the Rohingyas living in Ukhiya and Teknaf upazilas of Cox's Bazar district from purchasing SIM cards to stay in touch with family members and relatives in Myanmar.
The locals and Rohingyas staying in Cox's Bazar claimed to have found network of Bangladeshi mobile operators even in Myanmar's Maungdaw and adjoining areas.
State Minister for Post and Telecommunications Tarana Halim on September 23 last year said anyone found selling SIM cards to the Rohingyas would be punished.
The minister, however, said the displaced Rohingyas can use state-run Teletalk phone booths at the refugee camps for free to contact with other Rohingyas living in other camps.
But it is found that Rohingyas people are buying mobile SIM cards from local markets from a group of local traders for double or triple the price.
According to the media report SIM cards cannot be sold without biometric registration, some local traders are using forged documents to sell SIMs to the Rohingyas.
The BTRC official said: "Traders take fingerprints from unaware and illiterate locals saying their fingerprints had not shown up correctly in the previous documents and later use these to sell SIM cards to the Rohingyas at a high price.