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Farmer protests: Internet, SMS services shutdown in parts of Haryana to curb misinformation

Credit: Kisan Ekta Morcha Twitter

The Haryana government on Tuesday shut down internet and SMS services in multiple areas in the state after clashes erupted between farmers and law enforcement agencies in Delhi. The government claimed it was shutting down these services to curb misinformation about the clashes that could be spread via social media platforms or text messages. The state government ordered the suspension only hours after the Union Home Ministry had ordered an internet shutdown in multiple parts of Delhi and NCR.

The shutdown has been ordered in the districts of Sonipat, Palwal, and Jhajjar, and will be in effect until 5 PM on January 27. MediaNama has seen a copy of the order, and its authenticity was confirmed by multiple telecom sources on the condition of anonymity. The suspension will affect all mobile internet services — 2G/3G/4G/CDMA/GPRS — “excluding banking and mobile recharge”, SMS services, and “all dongle services”, barring voice calls.

“Misuse of Internet services by way of spread of inflammatory material and false rumours which are being/could be transmitted/circulated to the public through social media/ messaging services on mobile Internet services, SMS services and other dongle services,” the order said.

It said that the suspension would “stop the spread of disinformation and rumours through various social media platforms, such as WhatsApp. Facebook Twitter, etc on mobile phones and SMS, for facilitation and mobilisation of mobs of agitators and demonstrators who can cause serious loss of life and damage to public and private properties by indulging in arson or vandalism and other types of violent activities”.

On Tuesday, as clashes erupted between farmers protesting against the recently farm laws and law enforcement in multiple areas in Delhi and NCR, the Home Ministry ordered telecom operators to cut internet services until the midnight of January 26. In the remaining region, internet services were throttled to 2G speeds. This was the second internet shutdown imposed in the National Capital Territory, after internet services were snapped in the region in December 2019 during the protests against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act.

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