Update on January 11: The Tripura government yesterday extended the state-wide internet shutdown by another 48 hours, reports the Tripura Times. The ban was extended in an attempt to stop unauthenticated information, visuals and photographs, after police forces reportedly fired at civilians in the Madhabbari area, located in Jirania under West Tripura district.
MediaNama has reached out to a state government official for comment, and will update this when we hear from them.
Mobile internet and SMS in the state was banned on January 9 for 48 hours, and was meant to end yesterday at 3 pm. Note that even if the ban is lifted tomorrow, the state would have been under an internet blackout for 96 hours, which is 4 days.
Jirania is located on the outskirts of state capital Agartala, which is also situated in West Tripura district.
Earlier on January 9: Tripura bans internet and SMS for 2 days amidst the North-East bandh
The Tripura government banned mobile internet services and SMS for 48 hours in the state yesterday, amidst a bandh in the Northeast in which there were protests against the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2018. The Tripura State Additional Secretary confirmed the ban to MediaNama, and said that it began yesterday at 3 pm and will last till January 10 (tomorrow). The development was first reported by Tripura Daily.
Rumours on WhatsApp, Facebook to blame: Tripura govt
The order by the Tripura state home department said that incidents of rioting and arsoning were reported in West Tripura district under the Jirania Police Station.
“Messaging systems like SMS and WhatsApp, and social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are likely to be used for the transmission of fake information like pictures, images, videos, and text that have the potential to incite violence in the state at a larger ratio.” – The order
Tripura Daily reported that rumours began to circulate about the death of 5 people in the protest, after 6 people were injured during the Northeast bandh called by North East Students’ Organization (NESO). Note that the Citizenship Amendment Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha yesterday, and that Winter Session of the Rajya Sabha was extended by a day yesterday, although the Bill is not listed (pdf) in the upper house today.
2019 internet shutdowns: counting down
Note that this is the second internet shutdown of 2019, the first one was ordered in Pulwana district in Jammu & Kashmir on January 3. J&K has seen the most number of internet bans in the country since 2016, according to SFLC’s internet shutdowns tracker. In 2018, there were 134 internet shutdowns in India, 65 of which were in Jammu & Kashmir.
Read our coverage #NAMApolicy discussion on internet shutdowns here:
- Why governments shut the Internet down, and legal issues with their approach
- The impact of Internet shutdowns
- Alternatives to Internet shutdowns