In a bid to prevent cheating in the upcoming Police constable recruitment examinations, Rajasthan will suspend internet services for two consecutive days i.e. on 14th and 15th July, reports the Asian Age. According to the report, the Rajasthan police have taken permission from the government to suspend internet services in a radius of five kilometers from all examination centers, for two hours each in every shift. Around 15 lakh candidates for more than 13,000 posts are expected to take the exam at 664 centres. The examination will be held in four shifts over two days on Saturday and Sunday.

The police also informed the Rajasthan high court about the unprecedented security arrangements made in order to prevent any form of cheating. No candidates and in fact, not even the 3500 odd security personal, including police officials and jawans or invigilators would be allowed to carry their mobile phones to the examination centers, the report said.

The rationale behind the state police’s security measures is best understood when taken in context, the same exam, held in March, had to be cancelled after Special Operation Group (SOG) of Rajasthan police busted gangs involved in facilitating hi-tech cheating for the candidates. Consequently, it was decided that all future recruitment exams would be conducted offline. The strict measures are also in place given that the chief perpetrator of the incident in March, Jagdish Vishnoi is still on the loose, the report added. The gang was known to incorporate ingenuous methods to facilitate hi-tech methods of cheating.

Internet shutdowns in India

Last year, the telecom department released rules to regulate “Temporary Suspension of Internet Services”, which gave authority to high-level bureaucrats within both Central and State governments to order internet shutdowns. However, especially in this context, the police, rather than coming up with measures to contain the aforementioned gang and the likes, decided to suspend internet connection altogether. It has been a growing trend in Rajasthan over the past few months to curb internet services for various reasons.

This year alone, Internet was shut down in Rajasthan eight times in 2018, according to a report by the Hindustan Times. In the last four years, Rajasthan, at 25, holds the record of having the second highest number of Internet shutdowns ordered by a state, only after Jammu & Kashmir, which stands at 73. In December, 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.

In India, according to the Delhi-based Software Freedom Law Centre’s Internet shutdown tracker, there have been 68 internet shutdowns in 2018 so far. At this rate, 2018 is bound to have the crown of having the most number of Internet shutdowns in the country’s history, comfortably beating 2017’s record of 70.

Read our coverage from the open house discussion on Internet shutdowns here: