MHA concerned over unabated use of sat-phones in Himachal


By: ML Verma

Shimla: Himachal Pradesh, situated on Indo-Sino border and militancy inflicted Jammu and Kashmir, would now disallow use of satellite phones (sat phones) by tourists as it has received advisory from the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), which is concerned over its unabated use in the state.

In a circular issued to state police, it has sought to strictly ensure that no satellite phone is used in the state without the due permission from MHA and Department of Telecommunication. When contacted, IG (CID) AP Siddiqui said that the decision has been taken with a purpose to safeguard security along the border areas.

According to him, foreign tourists coming to the state use satellite phones out of ignorance about the rules for use, while such phones can only be used with consent from the Home Ministry of Government of India and the telecom department.

The police department has also appraised the tourism department regarding these guidelines of the ministry. Despite this, some tourists were using these phones. Police department in a letter addressed to the tourism department has asked them to educate tourists coming into the state to follow rules for use of such phones. Siddiqui said: “CID had issued guidelines that were issued by the MHA some times ago to SPs of all the districts about use of sat-phones.”

There are two types of satellite phones available in the market. The ‘Thuraya’ phones have been banned out rightly by the central government. While the second type of phones can be used by seeking permission from the authorities authorized for giving permission for this. The state police has asked travel agencies involved in the work of bringing international tourists to educate them about the norms. In case of any violation of norms police will be talking legal action against the culprits.

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