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Bangladesh stops mobile services along the border with India for security reasons

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — A majority-Muslim Bangladesh has ordered mobile phone providers to stop service along the border with India for security reasons after the new nationality law passed by the government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi which critics say discriminates against Muslims.

Officials said in a statement released late on Monday that mobile phone coverage was suspended in a sector one kilometer from the border with India until further notice to “protect the country’s security in the current circumstances.”

Two officials told Reuters the procedure was due to concerns that Indian Muslims were trying to flee to Bangladesh.

Two officials spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to make statements on the matter.

The new citizenship law allows non-Muslims who came to India from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan to settle there before 2015 to obtain citizenship.

Critics fear that the law will be a prelude to a wider registration of Indian citizens, during which residents are required to prove their nationality, which could expose poor Muslim families who do not have the documents required for a difficult situation.

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Bangladesh action.

The border between Bangladesh and India is more than 4,000 km. Millions of Bangladeshis reside in the border area, with whom the trade in medicines, agricultural commodities, milk and livestock links with the other side of the border.

“The decision to stop mobile services could affect the ten million people who live on the border,” said a senior official at a mobile phone service company in Dhaka.

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