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Crackdown against mobile retailers justified ?

It is surprising and amazing to know that the police have started crackdown against the dealers of mobile phones and tested the innocent shopkeeper. It is the only sector which is expending day-by-day and mobile phone subcribers reached to 98 million in pakistan it will be expected to cross 100 million at the end of 2010

Mobile phone dealers selling mobile phones and SIMs appeared to be the latest targets of administrative action as police in a crackdown at least arrested 38 innocent shopkeepers in Lahore on the directive of Iqbal Town Division Police. The dealers have lamented the undue crackdown and arrested the innocent shopkeepers on the pretext of issuing illegal mobile phone SIMs in Iqbal Town, Wahdat Colony, Samanabad, Sanda, and Gulshan Ravi areas.

It is surprising and amazing to know that the police have started crackdown against the dealers of mobile phones and teased the innocent shopkeepers. It is the only sector which is expanding day-by-day and mobile phone subscribers reached to 98 million in Pakistan and it will be expected to cross 100 million at the end of 2010.

But in the recent crackdown, the dealers have showed their anguish over the excessive of police and they decided to launch protest against the undue crackdown against the innocent shopkeepers. They said there were dozens bomb blasts occurred but the police did not arrest a single culprit who used illegal SIMs in their nefarious designs.

According to details, a shopkeeper, Hafiz Zafeer, who has been arrested for sold SIMs without ID Card to the customers. He informed that I did not sale a single SIM without ID card to anyone. In this case, our neighbour shopkeeper servant came to me and said my owner wanted a SIM and he will give the ID Card copy just now. On his request I gave him SIM but after a one minute a policeman in plain clothes approached and asked why you issued SIM without ID card to the shopkeeper. I said he was not unknown person he was my neighbour shopkeeper and he promised to give ID Card so I gave him SIM. He did not care his words and arrested him and lodged FIR against him. He spent two days in locker for nothing committed.

Among the arrested were Arshad, Imtiaz, Akbar Ali, Azeem, Vicky, Nadeem, Shahid, and Jamil, etc. When they presented in the court, court has just asked them have you licences forms which operators issued to the shopkeepers. All of them presented in the court and honourable without any hearing released the all innocent people because the court knows the police mischief and inhuman attitude towards the general public. All of them have same comments and tale while commented on the police behaviour.

On the other hand, Mobile Phone Dealers Association has lamented the attitude of the police against crackdown on business community deal in mobile phones and its accessories. They appealed the government does not tease the shopkeepers without any discriminatory. The police should not taunt the genuine shopkeepers who deal mobile phone and SIMs trades.

It is remembered on the arresting of the shopkeepers, they decide not to sale the SIMs of any company in future due to crackdown against them. The only sector which pay billion of rupees in taxes to the government. To observe the situation, some telecom operators has started directly sale of SIMs through mobile van.

There is need that the all operators must united and raise voice against the undue crackdown against the shopkeepers.

You can observe the efficiency of the police in Data Darbar tragic incident, six sub- inspectors, who had been deployed at Data Darbar following twin suicide blasts, were suspended from service for showing negligence and being absent from duty.

Besides, the Gujjarpura station house officer was also suspended from service for releasing a nominated accused in a case. According to a police spokesman, DIG operations Rao Sardar Ali paid surprise visits to different places in plainclothes and on a private vehicle in small hours.

During his visit to Data Darbar, he found absent from duty six SIs namely Khan Muhammad, Waqas Bashir, Muhammad Afzal, Muhammad Khalid, Zulfikar Ali and Qadeer Ahmed. Rao Sardar also visited Gujjarpura police station where he found absent some accused who were arrested for illegally selling cell phone SIMS during a crackdown. SHO Sharif Sindhu had allegedly released them after receiving bribe.

The DIG, during his visit to Sanda police station, issued show-cause notices to Moharrar and duty officer for not updating record and making unsatisfactory security arrangements outside the building.

In Karachi, many retailers were arrested and hundreds of SIMs being sold illegally seized during raids conducted by teams of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA). In third phase of drive against illegal sale of SIMs, the PTA teams along with the area police made raids in Mehmoodabad, surrounding markets of Cantonment Railway Station, Akhtar Colony, Manzoor Colony, Old Numaish, Patel Para, Soldier Bazaar, Garden and Sindhi Muslim Society.

They arrested many shopkeepers and recovered hundreds of SIMs of different companies being sold without following laid down procedure, a PTA statement said. PTA Director (Sindh Zone), Rizwan Haider, said successful raids were made with special help of home secretary and DIG police. PTA through advertisements had repeatedly warned those involved in illegal sale of SIMs, not to sell them to any customer without having proper identification and having given authority.

The director described it is PTA's policy that SIMs can only be sold through sales centre, franchiser or authorised dealers of concerned company. It is mandatory to witness original identity card of customer, collect its photostat copy and fill up his bio-data in sale examination form.

He said selling any SIM sans complete biodata of customer was a crime, adding warned PTA reserved right to take action, if the same was proved. It is remembered in July 31, 2008, on the special instructions of Regional Police Officer Nasir Khan Durrani city police arrested 39 shopkeepers belonging to Jhelum, Attock and Chakwal who were involved to sold SIM without proper identification and verification.

Police registered cases against them and asked shopkeepers to maintain the record of SIM.

Seven persons were injured in two low intensity crackers blasts at two different places, one at a net-cafe in Ghari-Shahu area, while the second explosion targeted a juice-corner in Shahdra vicinities of Lahore.

Rescue teams and police reached immediately on the blasts-site cordoned off the area and shifted the injured to Ganga Ram hospital. An injured of the cracker blasts was admitted with critical injuries, while six other get light injuries, Hospital sources said.DCO Lahore Sajjad Bhutta talking to media said that the intensity of the crackers-blast was low, adding that extremists with a typical mindset within the city were involved in such terrorists' activities to create sensationalism.

Media reports further disclosed that they received 'Text messages" from unknown numbers related to explosions in Lahore. Media persons added that an organisation named 'Tehreek-e-Defah-e-Nazria-e-Pakistan' had acknowledged the responsibility of the explosion by sending SMS messages to media persons prior to the targeted crackers blasts. CCPO Aslam Tareen also talking to media at the blast-site said, police have been conducting investigations from all perspectives over these two crackers blasts and police was collecting data about the residents of the area, adding that local extremists elements could be involved in these attacks.

Capital City Police Officer Muhammad Aslam Tareen directed enhanced security of importantbuildings and locations in the city after two cracker blasts in Ghari Shahu and Begumkot, Shahdara.

He said that he had directed all senior police officers to remain highly alert in maintaining law and order in their respective areas.

The CCPO directed police officers to take effective precautionary measures, especially in crowded public places, to prevent incidents of terrorism.

He ordered intensified patrolling around railway stations, bus terminals, bus stops, markets, cinema halls, hotels, mosques, imambargahs, churches and other important places.

Police officers have also been directed to utilise all available resources and their best professional skills to monitor activities of suspected persons, he added.

In continuation of drive against unauthorised mobile phone SIM retailers, PTA along with Sindh Police raided a number of retailers. They were found selling SIMs in complete disregard to the PTA's laid down procedures. The raids were conducted in Patel Para, Lasbella, Nishtar Road, New Town, PIB Colony, Saddar, Clifton and Kemari areas and violators were apprehended along with unauthorised SIMs of different mobile companies. PTA's Zonal Director Rizwan Ahmed Hydri said that unauthorised retailers were issued several warnings through print media against selling SIMs without proper authorisation and without carrying out proper verification of subscriber's antecedents. He said that as per PTA policy, SIMs can only be sold by company Sales Centres, Franchisees and authorised retailers after proper verification of antecedents of subscribers.

Subscriber verification includes seeing of original NIC or CNIC, keeping a photocopy of it and filling of customer agreement form.A PTA spokesman said the operation against illegal sellers of SIMs being carried out will shortly be extended other cities and towns of Sindh. PTA requested the customers to obtain SIMs after fulfilling all requisite formalities for a new connection to avoid any inconvenience

In February 2009, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) introduced the new system of SIM activation after verification of consumer particulars from NADRA had been made functional on February 01.

It may be mentioned that earlier pre- activated SIMs were being sold in the market and could be used instantly after purchase. In contrast in the new system , a non activated SIM would be sold to the consumers after checking his original CNIC and filling of Cellular Service Agreement (CSA) form.

The consumer would then call 668 from the same SIM and call centre would ask few questions to verify the data provided by the consumer and after the online verification of the consumer's antecedents from NADRA, SIM would be activated in the name verified customer.

In case of incorrect answers consumer would be asked to contact customer service centre of the concerned mobile operator or NADRA Swift Centre.

After this system is implemented it is expected that usage of unnamed SIMs for anti- social activities would be reduced and ultimately eliminated.

In this regard, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) organised telecom consumer forum with a theme "Together for Consumer Rights".

In this event, the Secretary IT formally inaugurated a new service named "SIM Information System - 668" introduced by PTA to enable the mobile subscribers to know the total number of SIMs issued against their respective CNIC number with each mobile operator.

Naghuib Malik said that government is facilitating telecom industry so that it continues to grow. He said that the government wanted development in the telecom sector which was growing at fast pace during last few years. While talking about "SIM Information System - 668" he appreciated this initiative taken by PTA and said that it is crucial to safeguard our communication systems so that they don't fall into the wrong hands and for that purpose this new system introduced by PTA will play an effective role.

While addressing the consumer forum Chairman PTA said that the Authority is cognisant of telecom consumer's needs and taking number of steps to facilitate them in resolving their issues. In this regard PTA has revamped complaint-handling mechanism of mobile companies, PTCL and other telecom operators. Launch of this new service is yet another evidence of PTA's sincerity towards its vision of protection of telecom consumers and their rights. He said that every mobile user could know number of SIMs issued against his CNIC with the mobile company name by sending his CNIC number without dashes and spaces to 668 through SMS. Rs.2/- will be charged on each SMS which is inclusive of all taxes.

In case of unauthorized numbers against his CNIC number, a consumer can get the data corrected from the concerned mobile operator's Customer Services Centre. The unauthorized SIM owners will be advised to register the SIM in their names within seven days of notification from concerned Customer Services Centre otherwise their calling facility will be stopped after thirteen days and the SIM will be completely blocked after seventeen days of that notice.

This service will help in further streamlining the data of mobile phone users. Chairman PTA said that in order to address the issue of unauthorised SIMs PTA first revamped the system of sale and registration of SIMs and now it has introduced this service which would allow mobile subscribers to get those SIMs blocked which presently are not under their usage. This system provides an Internet and SMS based interface to end-users in order to retrieve the registered mobile SIMsinformation. He said that it is a robust, secure and efficient sysytem to store a record size of approximately 100 Million subscribers' data.

The system ensures proper data integrity mechanism while answering back to multiple queries at a specific time.

The Chairman said that PTA has always been engaged in facilitating telecom consumers with best telecom services along with the due protection of their rights. The efforts of PTA, in this regard, have been translated in its consumer-oriented initiatives like Mobile Number Portability (MNP), system to block stolen mobiles through IMEI number, establishment of Consumer Protection Department for the redressal of consumer grievances, 7 to 8 digit Numbering Plan for fixed line, new consumer friendly SIM Activation System, lowest telecom tariffs amidst competitive environment etc.

We know that cellular operators of Pakistan did their best in utilizing every possible channel for selling their connections, and for sure they succeeded in it. But during all this they didn't focus much on verification of subscribers' data that resulted in increased concerns of law enforcement agencies, as there were plenty of un-registered SIMs that were not associated to any person.

Despite series of procedures adopted by PTA to address the situation, cellular companies failed to comply with them and kept on focusing on sales instead of subscribers' verification.

An Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) was issued on 28th June 2005 where mobile companies were required to get their data verified through NADRA database and issue new connection after due verification. In May 2007, a directive was issued by PTA having split the verification in two parts i.e. "New Connection Sale" and "Cleaning of Old Data"

with clear dead lines for mobile operators to complete the task. As a result significant amount of old data was cleaned through NADRA database and considerable improvement observed in new connections sales through the franchisees only.

In January 2008, Ministry of IT & Telecom issued a Policy Directive under section 8(2)(c) of the Pakistan Telecommunication (Re- organization) Act 1996, which replicates the procedure already in place for verification of mobile subscribers' information. In light of the policy directive, a revised Standing Operating Procedure (SOP) was issued inline with the existing policy for immediate implementation by the Cellular Mobile Operators.

To ensure the implementation of SOP, a number of measures were initiated which include meetings with law enforcement officers, business communities and sales representatives and conduct of country wide surveys/inspections through PTA Zonal Offices. About 106 raids were conducted, 853 Franchises were inspected, 4108 retailers were inspected.

In the process around 1425 SIMs were confiscated and 102 people were arrested who were involved in illegal business. Deployment of Online Verification System The cellular operators are (were) verifying their data through NADRA in batches, which at time becomes a lengthy and time consuming process. For convenient, easy and effective verification different options were explored and finally SMS based verification system was agreed by PTA, Mobile operators and NADRA.

The systems was deployed with Mobile operators at selected outlets. Its expansion to all customer service centres, franchisees and registered retailers is still in process.

Around 15 persent sale is being made through this system. Measures undertaken by PTA across the country resulted in following actions:-

l The data of mobile subscribers' antecedents for connection sold upto 30th November 2008 has been verified through NADRA. A total of 8.23 million unverified connections have been blocked.

l As a policy, 10 connections on single CNIC are allowed per mobile operator. The excess connections on single CNIC have been regularized through a media campaign. Uptill now 2.92 million excess connections have been blocked. (Total Connections blocked 11.15 millions)

To have a control on illegal sellers of mobile connections, mobile operators have now registered all authorize franchisee and retailers.

New System of Activation of SIMs after Verification

To ensure that the mobile connections are being sold to genuine customer with valid documentary proof, PTA in collaboration with the stake holders introduced "Inactive SIMs" in the market.

The activation of the SIMs will take place after verification of subscriber's antecedents from NADRA. The sale outlets that are the franchisees, retailers and mobile company customer service centres will sell inactive SIMs. After the sale of inactive SIM has been made the customer will call at call centre of mobile company at 789 from that SIM .It would be a free call. Call centre representative will ask few questions to verify customer particulars. If the answers are correct the SIM will then be activated. Parameters of the proposed system are:-

l Sale of non-active SIM by sale outlets after completing mandatory formalities.

l Customer given an instructions card highlighting activation procedure.

l In non-activated mode, SIM programmed to dial call centres.

l Maximum activation time allowed is 24 hours.

l CMTO Call Centre to order activation after verification.

The system is functional in the country from February 1 2009, and it has the following major advantages:-

l Efficient and effective verification procedure.

l Simple and easy deployment.

l Enhanced authentication parameters since it caters for secret questions.

l The interest/business of franchisee/retailer will not change.

l Efficient utilization of call based online verification system whereby the activation can be done quickly and accurately.

l Centralized control and responsibility will be with operators. Convenience and confidentiality of customer is maintained. Procedure for getting/purchasing a new SIM after 1st February 2009

l Customer to visit the Customer Service Centre/ Franchisee/ Retailer

l Upon confirmation of original CNIC/passport of the customer, Cellular Services Agreement Form (CSAF) will be provided

l Customer to fill the CSAF alongwith thumb impression and hand it over to the sales representative

l New non-activated SIM will be issued to the customer

l Customer to dial "789" for activation of his/her SIM

l Upon successful confirmation of few queries by call centre representative, SIM will be activated

l In case of non-confirmation, customer will be asked to visit nearest NADRA swift centre.

Media reports further disclosed that they received 'Text messages" from unknown numbers related to explosions in Lahore

It is remembered on the arresting of the shopkeepers, they decide not to sale the SIMs of any company in future due to crackdown against them
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Date:Sep 15, 2010
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