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Digital India’s New Year gift? Two internet shutdowns. Already.

CAA Protests
Protests against CAA at Delhi's Jantar Mantar. Credit: Nikhil Pahwa

India started 2020 with an internet shutdown on January 1 in Bhima Koregaon and neighbouring villages as lakhs gathered to commemorate the 202nd anniversary of the Bhima Koregon battle, reported Times of India. Internet connectivity and wired connections were suspended in Shikrapur and Loni Kalbhor police station limits from 6 am on January 1.

Over December 2019, the Indian government and police widely deployed internet shutdowns as a tool to quell protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act. Starting with Tripura and Assam, internet shutdowns followed where protests spread, with internet services snapped in parts of West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. Even New Delhi saw hyperlocalised internet shutdowns in areas where anti-CAA protests were ongoing or planned.

In total, India had 106 internet shutdowns in 2019. Jammu and Kashmir has been deprived of internet services for almost 5 months, since the abrogation of Article 370 on August 4, 2019.

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