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Internet suspended in parts of Pune district over Maratha quota agitation

Internet services have been suspended in seven tehsils of Pune district in Maharashtra as a “precautionary measure”, reports ANI. The city of Pune remains unaffected so far to the best of available information. Several pro-Maratha groups demanding reservations in jobs and education for the community declared a Maharashtra bandh for the day. This is the third internet shutdown in two weeks in Maharashtra – all due to violence arising out of the Maratha agitation for reservations.

The seven tehsils in which internet services have been suspended are Shirur, Khed, Baramati, Junnar, Maval, Daund and Bhor.

On July 26, mobile internet was shut down in Navi Mumbai after reported violence from nearby areas, even though the Maratha quota agitation was called off the day before. Just two days prior, on July 24, internet services were suspended in Aurangabad and other districts after two men from the Maratha community attempted suicide.

Internet shutdowns in Maharashtra

Maharashtra has seen eight internet shutdowns, out of which six have been only in this year, per the Software Freedom Law Centre’s Internet shutdowns tracker. Internet services are suspended under Temporary Suspension of Internet Services, 2017, under the Telegraph Act. The rule enables state and central governments to order suspension of internet services “due to public emergency or public safety”. The rule was notified in August 2017; internet shutdowns have rapidly been increasing in the last two-three years. While there were 31 reported shutdowns in 2016, the number is close to 100 only seven months into the year.

The rule has been challenged by Rajya Sabha MP Husain Dalwai in the Monsoon session of Parliament. The motion is yet to be listed in the Rajya Sabha, and the last day of the Monsoon session is August 10 (tomorrow).

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