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Mobile Internet services continues to be blocked in Jammu and Kashmir

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Mobile Internet services continued to be blocked in Jammu and Kashmir for a third day 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, as indicated by this PTI report. However, MediaNama has learnt that services were disrupted even in some parts of Jammu.

This is the fourth incident where Internet services were cut off in Jammu and Kashmir  and the 14th such instance since September 2015.

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.

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. Section 144 of the CrPC can usually be invoked by a district magistrate or the collector. 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.”

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.

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List of Internet blocks since September 2015

– 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.

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