Mobile Internet services were cut off in Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh since Tuesday after authorities feared a law and order situation in the state’s capital following the suicide of former chief minister Kalikho Pul, reports The Telegraph. The report added that the data and bulk SMS services were snapped despite the state administration saying that the order could be lifted on Tuesday night.
In February, the Supreme Court of India upheld the districts and states’ right to ban mobile Internet services for maintaining law and order in February. The bench said: “it becomes very necessary sometimes for law and order.” Typically bans such as this are enforced under Section 144 of the CrPC (Criminal Procedure Code) which allows local law administration to ban unlawful assembly and justify short bans on Internet services.
The number of Internet blocks has increased dramatically the Supreme Court’s ruling. Since September 2015, MediaNama has counted 15 incidences of Internet services being blocked . The Software Freedom Law Centre has tracked 30 incidents on Internet being cut off in since 2013.
Kashmir services blocked: Earlier this month, the Jammu & Kashmir state administration blocked GPRS-operated WhatsApp ‘as a precautionary measure’ to keep rumours in check last Friday (5 August). It restored the service on the same evening in Jammu. However, users in the state reported that Internet services were blocked for other websites and services as well.
Last month, mobile Internet services were been restored in the Kashmir valley after 17 days. Services were cut in over 10 districts on July 9 after security forces killed militant Burhan Wani which sparked widespread protests and violence. This is the longest period where mobile Internet was banned since September 2015 when serviceswere snapped for a week in Gujarat following the Patidar agitation.
UN resolution on Internet: The United Nations passed a resolution which condemned measures to intentionally prevent or disrupt access to information online and advocated a “human rights” based approach to Internet access. India had supported an amendment by Russia and China, which sought to remove the human rights, based approach.
List of Internet blocks since September 2015
–July 11, 2016: Jammu and Kashmir districts of Ananatnag, Shopian, Pulgam and Sopore/ 17 days/ (link).
– July 1st, 2016: Barmer and Jaisalmer (Rajasthan)/48 hours/ (link)
– June 17th, 2016: Jammu(Jammu and Kashmir)/unknown length of time/ Mobile Internet and bulk SMS (link)
– June 4th 2016: Sonipat (Haryana)/unknown length of time/Mobile Internet and bulk SMS (link)
– May 17th 2016: Azamgarh (Uttar Pradesh)/unknown length of time/Wireline and Mobile Internet (link)
– April 18th 2016: Gujarat/3 days (link)
– April 16th 2016: Jharkhand/unknown length of time (link)
– April 14th 2016: Kashmir/1 day (link)
– February 28th 2016: Gujarat/4 hours (link)
– February 19th 2016: Haryana/more than 1 day/Mobile Internet and SMS (link)
– December 20, 2015: Rajasthan/unknown (link)
– September 25th 2015: Jammu & Kashmir/2 days/Wireline and Mobile Internet (link)
– September 4th 2015: Manipur/2 days/Wireline and Mobile Internet (link)
– September 2nd 2015: Gujarat/ 1 week (link)