The Bangladesh government on Wednesday reversed its decision to shut down mobile services along the border with India, two days after ordering telecom operators to do so citing security concerns, The Dhaka Tribune reported.
Officials had in a statement released late on Monday said mobile network coverage was suspended for a one-kilometre-wide band along the border with India until further notice “for the sake of the country’s security in the current circumstances”. The directive was issued amid a strain in the ties between the two countries over India’s Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens.
The government reversed the earlier order after considering the problems of those living near the border areas. The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission chairperson Jahurul Haque told Dhaka Tribune that mobile phone operators have been instructed to resume services.
“Almost 12 million mobile phone subscribers were directly affected by the network shutdown,” Telecommunication Minister Mustafa Jabbar said. “So we restored the networks considering the public need.”
He clarified that the decision was not taken by his ministry and they just carried it forward.
Late last month, Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said the citizenship law and the citizens’ register were India’s “internal issues” but expressed concern that any uncertainty in India was likely to affect its neighbouring countries. Earlier in the month, Momen had cancelled his visit to India after protests erupted in the North East. A senior advisor to Sheikh Hasina has said the country will take back undocumented Bangladeshi immigrants in India if New Delhi provides evidence.
The Citizenship Amendment Act, approved by Parliament on December 11, provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. The Act has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims.