Radio and mobile network signals emanating from Pakistan are reaching the areas adjoining Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh, where several important establishments of the Indian armed forces are located. This has raised serious security concerns in the wake of the recent Pathankot terror attack.
Among others, “9 Corps”, Indian Army’s youngest corps raised in 2005, is based at Yol cantonment in the Kangra valley, 10 km southeast of Dharamsala.
The mobile network of Mobilink, which is a leading GSM provider network in Pakistan, and Telenor PK (Pakistan), can be easily detected by mobile handsets here.
Similarly, two radio networks emanating from Pakistan, FM 93.0 and FM 93.4, too, are being received by FM receivers in Dharamsala. While FM 93.0 is the radio station of the Pakistan Broadcast Corporation, FM 93.4 is not a “regular channel”. According to telecom experts, FM 93.4 is likely to be a low frequency private station, operating on a 5 kilowatt transmitter.
When contacted, officials in the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Research &Analysis Wing (RAW) said that the local officials had not brought this to their notice. Emails to the Ministry of Defence did not get any response until the time of going to press.
One IB official admitted that it was a matter of grave concern that mobile signals and FM services emanating from Pakistan are finding their way into India in contravention of international norms.
“There are serious security ramifications if Pakistan telecom networks are being detected in areas as strategically important as Dharamsala, which is an important town for us both in terms of China and Pakistan. Anti-Indian forces can sneak into Dharamsala and without being detected, can talk to their handlers in Pakistan and China on a Pakistani network by using Pakistani SIM cards. We will not be able to trace and record the calls,” an official said.
As per international norms, mobile networks should not be available beyond 500 metres on either side of the border. Dharamsala is located over a hundred kilometers from the border.
BSNL sources said that as the national telecom provider, it was not its responsibility to block these signals. “We are just the service providers and we do not have the technique to block signals coming from Pakistan. In such cases, there are only two options. Either we ask the Pakistani officials to dismantle the mobile towers that they may have set up near India’s border, as a result of which the network signals are being easily detected in India, or the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Army should install powerful jammers near the border and other critical establishments to block the foreign signals,” said a BSL officer of Chief General Manager rank.
According to sources, Pakistan has set up numerous mobile towers near its border with India to help smugglers and spies who are using Pakistani SIM cards in Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Rajasthan.