Over the weekend, mobile Internet services were shut down in 13 districts in Haryana as authorities dealt with two rallies organized by political parties in the state, reports PTI. Mobile internet was snapped in Jind, Hansi, Bhiwani, Hisar, Fatehabad, Karnal, Panipat, Kaithal, Rohtak, Sonipat, Jhajjar, Bhiwani and Charkhi Dadri till midnight of November 26 and the order came into effect on Friday. One rally was organized by the All India Jat Arakshan Sangharsh Samiti while an another was organized by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. Shutdowns as a preventive measure? [Nikhil Pahwa adds] PTI added that the order came from the additional chief secretary for the home department, S S Prasad. The order said that mobile internet was cut to "prevent any disturbance of peace and public order in the jurisdiction of state of districts." This is very different from what happened last year, where the Haryana government had blocked mobile internet and SMSes in certain districts after the Jat community’s protest asking for reservations turned violent. However, there was no violence before the order was issued. Shutting down Internet access as a preventive measure makes absolutely no sense: it's a suspension of the fundamental right to freedom of speech, and the imposition of a curfew. If a threat to public order was perceived, why wasn't a curfew imposed across the board, both for the rallies and in the virtual space? Why is Internet access being shut down because of a presumption of public disorder? This is not the first time that Internet access has been shut…
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