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Internet suspended in parts of Jaipur; 6th shutdown in Rajasthan in 2019

Mobile internet services were suspended in 10 police stations of Jaipur to prevent spread of rumors after a clash between two groups, following an attack on a bus carrying pilgrims, reports the Hindustan Times. Internet has been suspended in Ramganj and Galta Gate police stations. According to the report, some people pelted a carrying Kanwariyas, and 20 buses were damaged in the situation. India Today reports the police as saying that they have identified 3 people who were spreading rumours on social media that people were being forced to say ‘Jai Shri Ram’, but this didn’t happen. Others involved in spreading the rumour are being pursued, per the report.

Internet shutdowns in Rajasthan: ordered for exams, no reviews

Rajasthan has shut down the internet 62 times since 2015, seconding the troubled state (now Union Territory) of Jammu & Kashmir which shut down the internet 166 times in the same period. Internet services have been suspended in Rajasthan in 6 known instances this year.

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A few points to note:

1. There are usually more shutdowns than we know: Internet shutdowns are ordered by district officials, and can be further localised to cut off internet down to parts of a district or city; they can last anywhere between a few hours to a few days. News of internet suspensions don’t always make it to the public, which means that, they are likely more internet shutdowns than reported. Case in point is Rajasthan: an RTI application by SFLC in 2018 showed that Rajasthan had 26 instances of internet shutdowns which were never reported.

2. Rajasthan does not review its internet shutdowns: Rajasthan also doesn’t review internet shutdowns as another RTI application by SFLC showed. Of the 40 internet shutdowns between August 2017 and April 2018, the state held review meetings for only 11 of those. This was in violation of the internet shutdown rules — Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017 — which provide that such a committee should be convened within 5 days of each shutdown.

3. Rajasthan has shut down the internet for to preventing cheating in exams: The state government shut down internet at least on four occasions in 2018. The last such shutdown was in imposed in August 2018 in parts of Rajasthan to prevent cheating in the state public services commission exams.

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