INDIA banned pre-paid mobile telephones in Kashmir today, state television reported, following concerns that militants were using them to trigger bombs and hide their identities.
Mobile phones were launched in Kashmir only in 2003 after security agencies gave the go-ahead, but pre-paid versions are suspected to have been used in attacks since.
Pre-paid phones – phones that come with a set number of minutes charged on them – are easier to buy than their post-paid equivalents.
Post-paid – mobiles paid on a monthly basis – can only be bought after a series of security checks and official registration of personal details and passport photographs.
“All pre-paid mobile connections will stop functioning from November 1 after the home ministry’s order in this regard,” India’s state-owned television Doordarshan said today.
India’s Home Minister P Chidambaram during his trip to Kashmir this month had raised the possibility that pre-paid mobile telephones might be banned in the disputed region as “they were prone to misuse”.
He said there was “a vast difference from the security point of view” between pre-paid mobiles, which can be bought without detailed identification, and contract-paid mobiles.
Kashmir’s insurgency against rule from New Delhi has left more than 47,000 people dead by official count, though separatists put the toll at between 80,000 and 100,000.
The region is divided between Pakistani and Indian zones, but both countries claim it in whole and have fought two wars over it. AFP