Most likely one of Ashwini Khillian’s first initiatives following his appointment to Chief Operating Officer for American Tower Corporation’s ATC India last week, was to inventory the towers the company owns in Jammu and Kasmir as thousands of towers are being compromised by terrorists in India.
Telecom trade group Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) estimated today that around 2,500 towers have been affected due to terrorism in the Jammu and Kashmir Valley region with retail outlets remaining closed in many areas as police protection is increased in critical areas that have seen cell towers destroyed and most recently, one tower technician and a cell tower property owner killed.
However, according to Rajan Mathews of COAI, “We expect the problem to be resolved in the next few days, and normalcy to return to telecom services in the area by the end of the week.”
The state government said today that they would identify vulnerable towers and are in the process of providing security for many of them, mostly located in Sopore and Bandipora.
Landowners concerned about their safety are appealing to their carriers through advertisements in local newspapers to dismantle their structures. In some cases grenades have been lobbed at the towers, according to India’s media.
A group called Lashkar-e-Islam is taking credit for the recent deaths and the crashing of networks across the region of seven million people, which has long suffered a separatist insurgency and been fought over repeatedly by India and Pakistan since independence.
Subscribers of six carriers were affected by the disruptions: State-owned BSNL, Airtel, Aircel, Vodafone, Idea, and Reliance Communications, according to Mathews.