BTRC orders telecom operators to stop services to Rohingyas in seven days

The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulator Commission has ordered mobile phone operators to ensure in seven days that the Rohingya refugees do not get access to mobile phones.

Published : 2 Sept 2019, 10:44 AM
Updated : 2 Sept 2019, 06:08 PM

The telecom regulator wrote to the operators on Sunday regarding the issue, BTRC Senior Assistant Director Md Zakir Hossain Khan told

“You were instructed to ensure that the Rohingya people do not get access to the mobiles for the sake of state security and importance, law and order and public safety," says the directive.

 “But the commission has received information through the Rohingya camp visiting committees and various newspapers, media outlets, law enforcement and intelligence agencies that Rohingya community is using SIMs/RIMs on a large scale," the BTRC said.

“Under this circumstances, you are requested not to sale any SIM, to stop the use of the SIM by the Rohingya community, and ensure that the Rohingya community is not provided with mobile facilities and inform the BTRC within the next seven working days about the measures."

The directive was issued after taking instruction from Posts and Telecommunications Minister Mustafa Jabbar.

Addressing the BTRC order, Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh (AMTOB) Secretary General SM Farhad said, "Mobile operators are always committed to ensuring compliant practices by following the directives provided by BTRC. They will take appropriate measures regarding the issue.

"It is also necessary to mention that SIMs can only be activated after the bio-metric confirmation from the NID database."

Shahed Alam, chief corporate and regulatory officer of Robi Axiata Ltd, believes the issue can be redressed through "proper registration and usage of individuals in the NID database".

"We would like to categorically state that it is not possible for anyone to avail a new SIM connection without proper biometric verification of an individual’s identity with the NID database," he said.