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Private telcos asked to suspend voice services for a day in Jammu & Kashmir: report

censorship

All private telecom companies in Jammu and Kashmir have been asked to block their services, both Internet and voice, for a day starting today evening “as a precautionary measure” due to the widespread unrest in the state, as indicated by this PTI report. All prepaid services offered by BSNL have been suspended for a day, as per the report. Sources told PTI that the decision to suspend mobile services has been taken “to prevent anti-national elements from spreading any misinformation”.

However MediaNama checked that voice and SMS services were still active on Aircel in parts of Jammu.

Mobile Internet services were blocked  in Jammu and Kashmir since Sunday following the killing of militant Burhan Wani by security forces. Restrictions on mobile Internet were placed in districts of Pulwama and in the towns of Ananatnag, Shopian, Pulgam and Sopore,. However at that time, MediaNama had learnt that services were disrupted even in some parts of Jammu.

Mobile Internet services were cut off in Jammu and neighbouring districts following violent protests in the region over a temple descration in June.  Internet services were suspended in five districts in Kashmir in April  due to protests over the death of 4 people in clashes with the security forces. 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.

This is the second longest period since September 2015, when mobile Internet services were cut off in Gujarat for a week in light of the Patidar agitation.

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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/ 3 days/ Mobile Internet (link).
July 1st, 2016: Barmer and Jaisalmer (Rajasthan)/48 hours/Mobile Internet (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/Mobile Internet (link)
– April 16th 2016: Jharkhand/unknown length of time/Mobile Internet (link)
– April 14th 2016: Kashmir/1 day/Mobile Internet (link)
– February 28th 2016: Gujarat/4 hours/Mobile Internet (link)
– February 19th 2016: Haryana/more than 1 day/Mobile Internet and SMS (link)
– December 20, 2015: Rajasthan/unknown/Mobile Internet (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/Mobile Internet  (link)

The Software Freedom Law Centre has tracked 30 incidents on Internet being cut off in since 2013.

Image Credits: Flickr user Carolyn Tiry under CC BY-SA 2.0

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