Citing security concerns, the Bangladeshi government has ordered all four cell phone operators in the country to stop services along the border with India.
An official issued this order to the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) on Wednesday.
According to a BTRC official, who refused to give his name, all operators have already suspended the mobile network within a kilometer of the borders with India.
“The four operators closed around 2,000 base transceiver stations, through which they provided smooth mobile network services to some 1 million Bangladeshis,” the official said.
The BTRC in its order to the operators said that they would have to suspend mobile network coverage in the border areas “for the security of the country under the present circumstances”.
The Bangladeshi government’s move comes in the wake of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new citizenship law, which critics in some parts of the world say discriminates against Muslims.
The law aims to grant citizenship to illegal migrants from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan related to six religions – Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, Parsi and Christianity. However, this has barred Muslim migrants from applying for citizenship.
Against this backdrop, there is widespread speculation that Indian Muslims may flee Bangladesh amid fears of deportation to India.
“The purpose of shutting down the mobile network is to thwart any possible bid of Indians to enter Bangladesh in support of their friends and well-wishers in our country,” a Home Ministry official said.