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Shut mobile phone towers, shut out lawlessness

The District Magistrate of Meerut wants telecom networks closed to check rumourmongers during elections to the corporation, reports M Rajendran.

india Updated: Oct 31, 2006 03:09 IST

What is the best way to check copying in exams? Gag mobile networks. And the best way to ensure free and fair polls? Gag mobile networks.

The District Magistrate of Meerut wants telecom networks closed to check rumourmongers during elections to the corporation. He ordered telecom operators in Meerut — BSNL, Hutch, Reliance, Idea, Airtel and Tata Indicom — to close their networks on October 31, from 8 am till 5.30 pm.

Earlier, the Karnal Superintendent of Police had asked Airtel, Hutch, Idea, BSNL, Tata Indicom and Reliance to close down their networks on October 29 for the "peaceful conduct" of the Haryana State Staff Selection Commission examination.

The SP's order, a copy of which is with HT, reads: "I, Sibash Kabiraj, IPS, Superintendent of Police, Karnal, under the powers conferred upon the police under section 149 CrPC, hereby order to close down all towers of communications of mobile phones in public interest from 9.45 am to 12 noon...for the peaceful conduct of the examination.”

Another order by the District Magistrate of Saharanpur, Anil Kumar, sought a gag on mobile networks during local elections on November 11.

Similar order were passed by Chandr Prakash, the District Magistrate of Mainpuri, who wanted telecom networks closed on October 28 for panchayats elections.

With all these gags, do phones ever work in UP? Telecom Secretary DS Mathur said the officials did not have powers to issue such orders. "We have a copy of these letter and have sent a fax to the chief secretaries of Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana to stop such orders and revoke them."

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India chairman Nirpendra Misra said, "Orders on telecom network is completely under the domain of the Department of Telecommunications. But I must admit that the closure of networks is a serious matter."