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India saw 6 internet shutdowns in July, 65 so far in 2019

India has had 65 reported internet shutdowns in 2019 so far, and 337 reported internet shutdowns since January 2012. In July 2019, there were 6 instances of internet shutdowns reported in India, according to SFLC’s internet shutdown tracker. Of these 6 instances, 3 were ordered in Jammu & Kashmir, 2 in Rajasthan and 1 in Uttar Pradesh. Its worth noting that the actual number of internet shutdowns is in all likelihood much higher, since shutdowns are ordered by district officials, and news of internet suspensions doesn’t always become public knowledge, as seen in the case of Rajasthan.

Here is a state-wise breakdown of shutdowns in this month:

Jammu & Kashmir

July 5: Mobile Internet was suspended in J&K’s Shopian district after gunfight broke out between militants and the security forces in the Narwani area.

July 7:  Internet services were shutdown in south Kashmir as a precautionary measure on the third   death anniversary of militant Burhan Wani. The shutdown was carried on to the next day as well.

July 17: Authorities suspended mobile internet services in parts of Sopore after a Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) militant was killed in an operation by the security forces.

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July 2: Internet services were suspended as a precautionary measure in 13 police station jurisdictions of Jaipur after a seven-year-old girl was raped in the city on July 1.

July 16: The Udaipur district administration suspended mobile internet services in several towns for 24 hours after over 30 people including policemen were injured in clashes over a youth’s murder.

Uttar Pradesh

July 1: Authorities imposed internet shutdown in Meerut as a preventive measure to prevent spread of rumours on social media. The shutdown was imposed after a local organisation called for ‘Bharat Bandh’ after the police beat up people protesting the rise in lynchings.

Some observations

65 shutdowns in 7 months is an average of about 9 shutdowns per month. There were fewer reported instances of internet shutdowns in July than in June, which has brought down the internet shutdown per month average by 1 point. However, even by 9 shutdowns per month, we are well on course to cross 100 internet shutdowns for a second year running.

Top 5 states with shutdowns in 2019 so far

  • Jammu & Kashmir tops the list with 47 internet shutdowns already this year, so far. In 2018, the state saw 65 internet shutdowns.
  • Uttar Pradesh has witnessed 4 internet shutdowns so far. In 2018, it had 8 shutdowns.
  • Rajasthan is tied with Uttar Pradesh with 4 internet shutdowns so far this year. However, its shutdowns per month has gone down significantly in 2019 as it had 30 shutdowns in 2018
  • West Bengal has faced the blackout 3 times so far this year. In contrast, it had only 1 shutdown in 2018.
  • Odisha has ordered internet shutdowns 2 times so far. It too had a single shutdown in 2018.

Jammu & Kashmir accounts for more than 70% of all shutdowns in 2019 so far

  • So far in 2019, Jammu & Kashmir has witnessed 47 shutdowns, accounting for over 70% of all internet shutdowns in the country this year. By the end of last year, it accounted for almost half of all internet shutdowns. Out of the total 134 internet shutdowns last year, 65 happened in Jammu & Kashmir.
  • Between January 2012 and July 2019, there have been a reported 172 internet shutdowns in the state. The state saw 32 shutdowns in 2017 and 65 in 2018 during the same period.
  • It was the only state to have internet shutdowns in 2013 and 2014.

Security, communal and political discord: most common reasons for suspending internet services

  • In Jammu & Kashmir, the most common reason for snapping up internet services is generally because of precautionary measures following constant tussles between militants and security forces.
  • In the states of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha which represent 13 combined shutdowns, the most common reason for suspending internet services has been communal discord.
  • West Bengal has witnessed internet shutdowns this year mostly because of the political divide between the ruling TMC and opposition BJP.

Shutdowns on the rise

  • Between January 2012-July 2019, there have been a total of 337 reported cases of internet shutdowns in India.
  • In 2018, there were reported 134 internet shutdowns, as opposed to the 79 Internet shutdowns in 2017, and just 6 internet shutdowns in 2014.

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