Mobile Internet services were suspended for 24 hours in Tonk district of Rajasthan yesterday evening, after a clash between two communities, reports PTI. The clash reportedly involved torching of two two-wheelers and stone pelting, which injured four people. The additional district magistrate, Lokesh Kumar Gautam, said that the mobile Internet shutdown was a precautionary measure, but didn’t divulge any details regarding why this was deemed necessary.
Note that in March last year, mobile Internet services had been suspended under Section 144 of CrPC in Sikar district of Rajasthan, following a clash between two groups of youth. And last month, mobile Internet had been shutdown for three days in Bundi district of Rajasthan after another communal clash.
In December last year, Sharat Kaviraj, a Superintendent of Police in Rajasthan, explained the logic behind Internet shutdowns to MediaNama over phone at an open house discussion on the impact of Internet shutdowns. A couple of key points made by him were:
- Internet shutdown is a difficult decision, but “what I would say is that this system is forced upon us by the fact that a lot of people deliberately, and sometimes without understanding the consequences, forward all kinds of messages which are able to create a situation which is explosive.”
- He also mentioned that before exercising this option, they do consider alternative methods of countering misinformation, including area-specific SMSes, providing the media with access to and coverage of the entire scenario, besides loudspeakers and announcements.
Another Internet shutdown in Kashmir
In December last year, there was another Internet shutdown in Kashmir – this time in North Kashmir’s Kupwara, Handwara, Sopore and Baramulla districts. BSNL, which is normally kept out of the shutdowns, because government officials and more importantly the police use it, was also included in the shutdown. Right through 2017, there were several Internet shutdown in Kashmir. In fact, in April 2017, the government had also banned several social media services, as opposed to just disabling Internet access.
Related Read: Government of India issues rules for Internet Shutdowns
Read our coverage from the open house discussion on Internet shutdowns here: