Guwahati, June 20: Assam police will provide satellite phones to security personnel undertaking counter-insurgency operations in remote and border areas to remove communication handicaps.
An official source told The Telegraph today that satellite phones would be given to policemen deployed in areas not covered by police wireless network and where there is no mobile connectivity.
He said the decision was taken in view of mobile connectivity and wireless coverage in inaccessible and difficult terrain, which hampers operations against rebels.
He cited the incident in which the Hamren superintendent of police Nityananda Goswami and his proximate security officer Ratul Nunisa were killed by militants during a counter-insurgency operation in Karbi Anglong. There was no mobile connectivity at the site, one of the reasons for the operation going haywire.
According to the source, the state police will initially procure 25 satellite phones.
“The biggest advantage of satellite phones is that these are not dependent on towers,” he said. “Conducting operations in insurgency-hit areas had become difficult for security personnel, particularly in hills and inside dense forests.”
He said the proposal to provide these phones was approved by the state government after the police reported problems in communicating essential information to their base locations, which took a toll on the operations.
Following Goswami’s death, Assam chief secretary Jitesh Khosla had requested the ministry of home affairs to take up with the department of telecommunications (DoT) ways to strengthen the mobile network in the state, particularly in Karbi Anglong.
Khosla took up the issue during a recent high-level security review meeting held at Dispur, attended by chief minister Tarun Gogoi and Union minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju and senior officials of Union home ministry and state government.
MHA officials told the state government that DoT is planning to install 7,000 mobile towers in the Northeast, mostly along the borders. “Till the mobile network is improved, the satellite phones will be of great help,” the source said.
He said apart from the satellite phones, the police will also acquire 72 handheld GPS devices to improve its operational capability.
“The GPS handset helps in navigation. The handsets keep on indicating the direction with the help of an arrow and start beeping after reaching the destination,” he said.
The source said the GPS device would also have trace-back facility, which will help a police team to avoid a particular path while returning after an operation.
“Sometimes people are reluctant to help us search for a location. In such a situation also, the GPS device will be very useful,” he added.