Internet services were suspended in 4 districts of Telangana including Nirmal, Adilabad, Mancherial and Asifabad on January 13, NDTV reported. The suspension orders came from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) after clashes broke out between two communities on, January 12, in Bhainsa town of Nirmal district, The News Minute said.
The District Collector’s office in Nirmal said that the internet suspension orders were not issued by them, and “seems to have come from the Department of Telecommunications”, The News Minute reported. The district’s sub-collector did not tell the outlet as to when the suspension would be lifted. Meanwhile, voice calls are reportedly operational in the district.
We have reached out to Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio to seek further clarification on the internet suspension order.
4 internet shutdowns in 2020, already: It has only been 2 weeks since the beginning of 2020, and there have already been 4 instances of internet shutdowns in the country:
- 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.
- Jammu and Kashmir’s internet blackout, 5 months and counting: Meanwhile, the public-at-large in Jammu and Kashmir hasn’t had access to the internet for over 5 months. While broadband internet services were reportedly reinstated at 80 government hospitals earlier this year, a large section of Jammu and Kashmir’s population continues to live without access to the internet since August 2019.
- The Supreme Court of India, on January 10, said that right to access the internet is an essential part of the right to freedom of expression according to the Indian Constitution. The Court also ordered the Jammu & Kashmir administration to review all restrictive orders issued since the abrogation of Article 370, which accorded special status to Jammu and Kashmir, within seven days, and put it out in the public domain so that they can be challenged in a court of law.