Everything is fair in love and war, and this is cable war. Local cable operators, who are already fighting corporate giants who provide Direct-To-Home (DTH) services, are going all out to gain some new customers. This is being done by sabotaging subscribers of rival companies.
For the last fifteen days, subscribers of SITI cable had been complaining that their reception stopped suddenly.
“Wires of the local cable operators were being chopped. We used to get calls from customers asking why they were not getting any TV feed,” said Zahid Hussain, a cable operator who provides services from Churchgate to Charni Road, and is a distributor for SITI cable.
Similar cases were also observed, with SITI cable wires being cut at Pydhonie and J J Marg area.
On September 30, when a customer from Marine Chambers, a building near Gol Mandir in Marine Lines, complained that he wasn’t getting any channel feed, Hussain went to the terrace of the building to check on the equipment.
There, he found that switches, node amplifiers, fibre optical cables and a media converter, belonging to SITI and worth Rs 75,000, had been thrown haphazardly. To investigate further, Hussain checked footage from the CCTV cameras installed in the building. In it, he spotted Prashant Bhave, a technician with Digicable. Suspicious, he showed the clips to the Azad Maidan police and registered a complaint.
The police arrested Bhave, and also two other employees of Digicable, Ayub Khan and Prashant Bhojne, on Tuesday. On questioning, the three men confessed to having sabotaged the equipment belonging to SITI cable subscribers. Kavita Sutar, police sub-inspector, Azad Maidan police station, said, “On receiving the complaint, we arrested the three men. On repeated questioning, they confessed to the crime.”
The three were released on bail yesterday by the Killa court.
The other side
When MiD DAY contacted Shailesh Chavan, Senior Manager, Operations, South Mumbai at Digicable, he said, “It’s a false case. Hussain himself had sold the entire equipment and cables to Digicable in 2009, for which we had paid around Rs 36 lakh. How can he claim that he owns the cables in the building and lodge a complaint against my employees?” Hussain, however, denied having sold the entire bunch of equipment and cables to Digicable.
Other operators also affected
The crime is not limited to just these two operators. InCablenet, another operator, also experienced the same problem.
“I went to the Pydhonie police, but they refused to register an FIR. They told me to write a simple application and go away,” said a distributor for InCablenet. There are four major competitors who provide services in south Mumbai – InCablenet, SITI cable, Hathway and Digicable.