The government has called an urgent meeting on Monday with the telecom operators after reports of wide scale distribution of SIM cards in Jammu and Kashmir without verification was brought to its notice.

The meeting will be chaired by Union Home Secretary G.K. Pillai, where representatives of Aircel, Airtel, RCom, the Tatas, BSNL, Vodafone and Idea Cellular will be present.

During the meeting, the violations committed by these operators while issuing mobile connections will be brought up.

It may be mentioned that the Union Home Ministry had asked security agencies to conduct a secret audit of whether the telecom operators were following the revised guidelines.

It was found that from out of a sample of 500 mobile phones, in 65 per cent of the cases, the verification norms were violated, thus raising security concerns.

During the meeting, a proposal of the Jammu and Kashmir police for slapping heavy fines running into crores of rupees, besides booking the violators under provisions of the Unlawful Activities Disruption Act as well as under section 121 of the IPC (waging war against the country) is likely to be considered.

A notice for the meeting has gone out to seven operators — Aircel, Airtel, RCom, Tatas, BSNL, Vodafone and Idea Cellular.

It said Mr. Pillai would meet the CEOs and MDs of these operators on July 12 to discuss the reasons for slow progress and continued gaps in cooperation on this matter.

The Department of Telecom (DoT), in consultation with the Ministry of Home Affairs, had issued guidelines about six months ago directing the mobile operators to complete the process of subscriber verification in a time-bound manner in view of the security concerns.

Sources in the know said that progress on this front has been extremely slow and the security agencies have expressed concerns on this front.

It can be recalled that use of mobile telephony in the troubled states has been a matter of concern, with the Centre banning the use of pre-paid mobile services on the pretext that the service was being misused by terrorists.

The government lifted the ban (imposed in November, 2009) on pre-paid mobile services in the state in January this year after nearly two-and-a-half months, but on the condition that the operators would do customer verification in the given format at the earliest.

While lifting the ban, the government had issued fresh guidelines which limited the number of connections to a household to six.

The State has about 40 lakh pre-paid phone subscribers, for which the verification would be undertaken by the telecom operators following the revised guidelines for issuing a new connection, the DoT had said.

The fresh guidelines stated that though no customer will be given more than one pre-paid or post-paid connection, but if an individual desires to avail more connections, he will have to give reasons for it.

Under no circumstances will one household in the State be entitled to more than six connections, it said.

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