Centre Lifts Ban On Prepaid SIM In J&K, Strong Checks In Place21 January 2010
The Indian Express
Srinagar: The Centre today overturned an unpopular ban on prepaid mobile phones in Jammu and Kashmir, a move that had been aimed at preventing militants from using them to clandestinely plan attacks. All subscribers with prepaid phones will, however, be subject to new and rigorous identity and address checks, a statement from the Department of Telecommunications said. The ban last November had affected an estimated 38 lakh subscribers and 20,000 prepaid retailers. The Valley welcomed the announcement ending the ban. Bashir Ahmad Dar, president of the J&K STD and PCO Owners Association, said: “This is a welcome decision. But the government must set up a monitoring agency to keep a check on cellular companies. This is important to prevent misuse and ensure that a ban is not imposed again in future.” PDP’s Mehbooba Mufti too welcomed the lifting of the ban. “This can restore the confidence-building process. We had always maintained that this ban reflected a lack of trust in the people of Jammu and Kashmir and not so much a security measure,” she said. Revised guidelines for telecom operators in J&K will see stricter scrutiny of documents besides limiting a family’s ability to have multiple phones to just six. As per the new guidelines: * No individual to be given more than one mobile connection, either prepaid or postpaid, under ordinary circumstances. * For second connection, subscriber to specify reason in writing. Disclose all other mobile connections in his-her name as well as family. No family can have more than six mobile connections. * Degree of verification in case for a second connection to be stricter. Verification process may include reference to state government or Centre. * In case of a negative report on the identity or address of the subscriber, the connection shall be disconnected within two hours of receipt of the report. * Subscribers have to provide at least one of 16 listed documents as proof of identity. * For proof of address, there is another set of 16 documents, of which any one has to be produced - 12 of the 16 documents are common for both kinds of verification. * Existing prepaid subscribers need to be reverified for identity and proof of address. * Students, government employees, including those of PSUs, to provide certificate from heads of organisations as proof of identity and address. * Personnel of armed forces, families need to submit certificates from a high-ranking officer of their organisation. * Similar process to apply for enrolment of new postpaid connections. * In case bill for postpaid connection is returned or not paid for 90 days, reverification will follow.