Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Mobile phone towers become main target of Naxalites

PRESS TRUST OF INDIA / New Delhi August 25, 2009, 0:53 IST

Mobile phone and telecom towers seem to have become a major target of Naxalites, who have destroyed nearly 70 such installations during the last three years in half-a-dozen Naxal-infested states.

In the latest attack, about 50 armed Naxalites reached the site of the mobile tower situated on the Aurangabad- Medininagar route in Jharkhand’s Palamau district, stuffed explosives before blowing it up this morning.

On June 25, Naxalites blew up three mobile phone towers in Koraput district of Orissa, barely hours before the visit of Union Home Minister P Chidambaram to the state. They also blew up a tower of a private telephone company in Gaya district of Bihar on June 23.

Concerned over frequent setbacks to telecommunications, hampering operations against the Naxals, the home ministry has offered to locate the towers in the premises of para-military forces stationed in the troubled districts or in police station campuses.

Home ministry officials said the highest number of 20 towers were destroyed during the last three years in Chhattisgarh, where last year alone 14 mobile telephone towers of both private and government networks were attacked.

Jharkhand, which did not see any attack on mobile towers till 2007, saw nine such attacks in 2008 disrupting communication networks in several Naxal-hit areas.

Besides Jharkhand, other states where mobile telephone towers have faced the brunt of Naxal attacks are Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Maharashtra.

Mobile phone towers located in Bihar faced the wrath of the Naxalites, who blew up 14 of them last year, figures available with the Naxal Division in the home ministry showed. With mobile phones becoming increasingly popular during the last couple of years, 43 incidents of such attacks were reported last year alone.

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