Indian soldiers use Chinese mobile services at border in Arunachal

By siliconindia   |   Monday, 26 October 2009, 09:12 Hrs   |    8 Comments
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Kibithu (Arunachal Pradesh): An Indian soldier on duty at the India-China border town in Arunachal Pradesh thanks Chinese mobile operators every time he has to send an SMS to his family back home. The nearest BSNL phone is 30 kilometers away, reports The Telegraph. Alongside the rise in tensions between the two nations, wireless technology has also taken its ground at the India-China border. China had set up Airtel and Vodafone towers in May, as one of the towers at Sama village on the other side is clearly visible from Kibithu, the easternmost town on the eastern front. A Delhi Airtel connection with a Correspondent displayed 'CHN CMCC Airtel' on the screen, but without international roaming, the mobile was not able to send a message. Indian defence personnel and intelligence agencies use telephone for all kinds of official communications. "For all official work, we are still compelled to send couriers or use the good old wireless network to send messages," said an Intelligence Agent at the border. Internet seems be a dream for the Indian soldiers here. The nearest 'satellite phone' which India had set up three months ago is about 30 kilometers away in Walong, a small cantonment and administrative town in Anjaw district. About 160 kilometers away in Chaglagam, taking time off from acclimatizing patrols, a Lieutenant Colonel queued up at the BSNL satellite phone system branded 'Halo' phone, to call his family. These satellite phones had been installed in a low key reaction to the mobile telephone network that 'got very strong' from the Chinese side. The Indian defence personnel, who are far away from their homes, often use Chinese connection for sending messages to their families. "Please write about the lack of telephone network here, many people in the area even use the Airtel network on the other side," said a soldier of the 20 Sikh regiment. Even after 47 years from the Battle of Walong, when the Indian Army battled Chinese advances in what turned out to be one of the bloodiest fights in the 1962 war, the Indian government has not even built roads in several border areas. The road from Walong to Kibithu was built a few years ago. In places like Tuting and Taksing, soldiers have to walk six days to reach the border outposts. The already sparse population in border areas of Arunachal Pradesh has been tapering further because of this lack of infrastructure. But argument from Delhi has been that vast swathes of this mountainous terrain are uninhabited.But there are some counter-arguments to it. "Within a year, I have seen the number of villages increase from 14 to about 30. They are farming in communes, I believe," said a source in Kibithu. About two villages, one of them called Nazong, in Anjaw district have ended because of lack of infrastructure. Sources inform that many residents of the border areas have moved to the Lohit district headquarters of Tezu, which has become a melting pot of the Miju-Mismi and Digaru-Mismi tribes of Lohit and Anjaw districts. The Finance Minister and Legislator from Anjaw, Kalikho Pul said, "Make roads, construct power projects and give me the resources, and I will convince people to settle in border areas."