Thomas K. Thomas

New Delhi, Oct. 30

What does one do to prevent rigging in elections and mass copying during exams? Various State Government authorities seem to think that shutting down mobile services will do the trick.

During the last week, cellular operators have received letters from district authorities in Meerut, Karnal and Sahranpur to shut down all mobile services for an entire day on various grounds, basically to prevent cheating in exams, prevent rigging and spreading of rumours during local elections.

The operators have received orders from District Magistrate, Meerut stating that since the election of Chairman and councillors was about to take place in the city, mobile services should be closed down (jammed) from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on October 31 so that free and fair elections can take place. Similarly, a notice was issued by the Superintendent of Police, Karnal on October 28ordering all the cellular operators to close down in public interest from 9.45 a.m. to 12 noon because the Haryana State Staff Selection Commission was holding examination for selecting State Taxation Inspectors and aspirants use mobile phones for leaking out the question papers and for mass copying.

Cellular operators are not taking it lying down and have shot off a protest letter to the Department of Telecom.

"The above are unreasonable and incorrect orders issued by the State authorities as not only do they disregard public interest, but also are incorrectly expecting the cellular operators to do their job for them." said Mr T. V. Ramachandran, Director-General, Cellular Operator's Association of India.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated October 31, 2006)
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