Rajasthan suspended internet in four districts — Dungarpur, Udaipur, Banswara and Pratapgarh — on Saturday after violent protests erupted in Dungarpur district on Thursday and Friday, the Hindustan Times reported. Hundreds of tribal youths reportedly blocked national highway No. 8 in Dungarpur, demanding that over 1,100 unreserved posts of government teachers be filled with ST candidates. Public property and vehicles were set on fire, and the police fired a thousand rubber bullets to control the situation, per the report.
Internet was suspended in the districts of Dungarpur, Udaipur, Banswara and Pratapgarh. According to a report by the Udaipur Times, internet was shut in Udaipur’s Kherwara and Rishabhdeo areas at 11 pm on Saturday as the agitation spread. Udaipur divisional commissioner Vikas Bhale ordered the internet shutdown under the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services Rules, 2017, under the Telegraph Act. The internet shutdown rules permit only a secretary of the state home department or a joint secretary level officer authorised by the home secretary to impose an internet shutdown.
Section 144 was also imposed In Udaipur on Saturday, with district collector Chetan Deora warning of “strict action” against those who spread “provocatory messages on social media” in the order, per the HT report. We have reached out to the Rajasthan home department for details on whether the suspension has been revoked in the four districts.
Users have reported receiving the following messages in #Udaipur in #Rajasthan
‘Data Alert: As per the Government’s instruction, internet services have been temporarily stopped in your area’ pic.twitter.com/k2K9ISE8YS
— InternetShutdowns.in (@NetShutdowns) September 27, 2020
Rajasthan has imposed internet shutdowns frequently in the past, accounting for the highest number of internet shutdowns after Jammu and Kashmir. Since 2015, Rajasthan has imposed 69 internet shutdowns, according to SFLC’s internet shutdowns tracker. The state has cut off internet access before and during the Ayodhya verdict, during the anti-CAA protests in December, during state-level examinations, and after tense situations following clashes.
A response to an RTI had earlier revealed that the Rajasthan government failed to conduct a review of most of the internet shutdown it imposed between July 2017 to May 2018. During this period, it cut off internet access on 40 instances, but conducted a review only for 11 shutdowns, reflecting a failure to follow due process under the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services Rules, 2017. The rule requires that a review committee, chaired by the state chief secretary, meet within five days of the shutdown being imposed to discuss whether the shutdown was in accordance with law.