Militants wage war against cellular services in Sopore, lobs grenades at mobile tower

Militants, waging a war against mobile services in north Kashmir’s Sopore town, on Sunday made an abortive bid to blow up a leading company’s transmission tower.
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Updated on May 24, 2015 10:06 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByPeerzada Ashiq, Srinagar

Militants, waging a war against mobile services in north Kashmir’s Sopore town, on Sunday made an abortive bid to blow up a leading company’s transmission tower.

Police sources said two grenades were lobbed on Sunday night in Kraleteng area of Sopore, 55 km north of Srinagar.
While locals claim one grenade exploded in the air, another grenade was defused on Sunday by the security forces bomb disposal squad.

The aim of the blast apparently was a cellular tower located inside a residential area and scare those dealing with services of the cellular companies. The police are tight-lipped about the fresh militant move to stall cellular services in Sopore. “We are investigating the nature of the blast,” deputy inspector general (DIG), north Kashmir, Gareeb Das, told the media.
Top police officials, including inspector general of police Syed Javaid Mujtaba Gillani and Sopore’s senior superintendent of police Abdul Qayoom, refuted to divulge details on the attack despite repeated attempts.

The police are facing a tough time in volatile Sopore for more than three weeks now with militants launching an onslaught on the cellular companies, challenging the security agencies writ.

Most cellular companies’ outlets have stopped issuing SIM cards in Baramulla district’s Sopore area since May 1.
“Shopkeepers are so scared that recharge of the post-paid cellular numbers are being done from other towns and Srinagar city,” said Niyaz Ahmad, a local.

The internet speed has already suffered in the area after the militants raised ante against the services. Most cellular companies have stopped issuing SIM cards in the area. “We have stopped filling fresh connection forms for a while,” a senior Vodafone official told the Hindustan Times on the condition of anonymity.

The militants’ move against the cellular companies started in the first week of May when pistol-borne masked men raided outlets of the Bharti Airtel, Aircel and Vodafone outlets in the town. They also threatened locals not to provide space for these towers.

Sources said a hi-tech communication device of a cellular company has also gone missing, with finger of suspicion at the militants who are battling to avoid being detected by the security agencies.

The theft was followed up by threatening posters, issued by little known ‘Lashkar-e-Islam’, asking telecommunication companies to wind up their business in the town.

“We warn the retailers as well to stop recharging the subscribers within seven days,” read the posters pasted in the main chowk and Rahim Sahab areas of Sopore earlier this month.

In the past, several militants and commanders were neutralised after the security agencies succeeded to plant SIM cards in the militant ranks.

Apparently, the militants are rattled by the sway of the security agencies in Sopore, which was once hotbed of militancy.Sources said the fresh move is an indication of desperate attempt of the militants to gain foothold in the area.

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