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Internet shutdown in Jabalpur as ‘precautionary measure’ against anti-CAA protests

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Mobile internet services in Jabalpur city in Madhya Pradesh have been suspended as a “precautionary measure” to curb protests against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act, Jabalpur deputy inspector general BS Chouhan told to MediaNama. The internet suspension order came from the district magistrate’s office, we were told.

Chouhan said that mobile internet services were suspended in the city at 9 am today, and are likely to be restored at 5 pm. “Thousands of people are expected to gather in one place during the protests, and the internet was suspended as a precautionary measure because of that,” Chouhan said. MediaNama has not seen a copy of the internet shutdown order yet.

Bharti Airtel confirmed the shutdown earlier today on Twitter. We have reached out to Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea, and Reliance Jio for more clarification. This is the second time that internet services were suspended in the city in light of anti-CAA protests, with the previous shutdown being in December 2019.

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The Supreme Court had earlier said that access to the internet is part of free speech: This internet shutdown order comes weeks after the Supreme Court had declared that the right to internet is also part of freedom of speech and expression, and an indefinite ban on the internet is an abuse of power. Despite that, 2G mobile internet for accessing 301 whitelisted is currently allowed in parts of Jammu and Kashmir. Of those already few whitelisted websites, even fewer websites are actually accessible, analysis found.

Read more: Indian govt uses internet shutdowns to curb anti-CAA protests — in UP, Delhi, Assam, and 6 other states

Internet shutdowns in 2020 so far: 

  • On January 25, mobile internet services were suspended in Jammu and Kashmir in light of Republic Day celebrations.
  • On January 13, internet services were suspended in 4 districts of Telangana including Nirmal, Adilabad, Mancherial and Asifabad, after clashes broke out between two communities.
  • On January 5, there was an internet shutdown in Hyderabad’s Tank Bund area, where several people had gathered to protest against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act, according to local newspaper The Siasat Daily.
  • On January 2, internet services were stopped in Duttapukur, Amdanga and Deganga areas of West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district after communal clashes broke out in the Duttapukur area.
  • Internet services in Bhima Koregaon and adjoining villages in Maharashtra’s Pune district were snapped on the first day of 2020, as people arrived in Bhima Koregaon to mark the 202nd anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon.

India had more than 100 internet shutdowns in both 2019 and 2018, each: India has had more than 100 internet shutdowns in each of the last two years, according to data maintained by internetshutdowns.in, which tracks internet shutdowns in the country. Last year, India witnessed 106 internet shutdowns, and in 2018, there were 134 internet shutdowns.

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