Mobile internet has been shut down in some parts of Kashmir due to protests over the death of 4 people in clashes with the security forces, reports The Hindu. The report added that the internet shut down was to ‘curb the menace of rumor mongering.’ NDTV states that the affected areas for internet were: Srinagar, Kupwara, Baramulla, Bandipora and Ganderbal districts.
In September 2015, Jammu and Kashmir had suspended Internet services for two days following apprehensions of violence in the state in light of the beef ban in the state. The government had issued a notification asking all internet service providers to close 3G, 2G, GPRS, lease line and broadband services on September 25 and 26 to keep things under control.
SC upholds states’ right to ban mobile internet
Note that in February, the Supreme Court of India upheld the districts and states’ right to ban mobile Internet services to maintain law and order. This was challenged in court by student-activist Gaurav Sureshbhai Vyas and represented by lawyer Apar Gupta. A bench dismissed the appeal saying “it becomes very necessary sometimes for law and order.” Gupta argued that a blanket ban on Internet services was not justified.
State of connectivity in Kashmir: Between July and September 2015, total broadband connections in urban India grew by 10% and by 8.7% in rural areas. Broadband connections in hilly states such as Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and the North East remained very low with a total of just 4.58 million connections.
Previous internet blocks:
– In February, Gujarat had shut down mobile Internet services for four hours to prevent cheating on phones during Revenue Accountants Recruitment Exam.
– In the same month, state authorities in Haryana blocked mobile internet in certain districts after the Jat community’s protest asking for reservations turned violent. Affected districts included Rohtak, Sonipat and Jhajjar.
– In December 2015, the Rajasthan police banned the usage of mobile internet for an indefinite period following communal clashes in the districts of Nagaur, Dungarpur, Udaipur, Bhilwara and other parts of the state. This was implemented to ensure that social networking apps and websites do not disturb the communal harmony in the state.
– In September 2015, internet access and SMSes were cut off in the north-eastern state of Manipur following violent protests which left eight people dead.
– In the same month, internet services were suspended in Surat in Gujarat to curb the spread of rumours amid the agitation by the Patel community. This was the second time Internet services were suspended in Gujarat. A month before that, Godhra in Gujarat was cut off from Internet services for a week due to political agitations by the Patel community demanding reservations.