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Internet suspended in Arunachal Pradesh in response to a bandh called by a political outfit

Shutdowns in India last year lasted for a total of 317 hours, despite the Supreme Court declaring internet access a fundamental right.

The state government of Arunachal Pradesh has suspended mobile internet and broadband services in Itanagar from January 12 to January 14 in response to a bandh called by a political party in the state.

The order, uploaded by SFLC.in’s net shutdown tracker, said that the internet shutdown was ordered in response to a bandh called by The All Nyishi Youth Association in Itanagar, “to prevent occurrence of serious law and order problems during the bandh”.

Internet shutdowns have unofficially become standard operating procedure during public unrest or violence in India. State and central government bodies are increasingly relying on these shutdowns, and creating communication blackouts in conflict-ridden areas.

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Bandh was struck down by Supreme Court

The order said that The All Nyishi Youth Association had declared a 36-hour bandh from January 13. However, the bandh was declared ‘illegal’ on the basis “of the judgement of Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in the Civil Appeal no 7728/29 of 1997 (CPI vs Bharat Kumar and others).

Thus, the order said, direction was issued to suspend internet services, “including WIFI services of BSNL and all other private internet services providers” from 5 pm January 12 to 5 pm January 14.

“The General Manager, BSNL and Area Managers of Airtel, VI, Jio services under the territorial jurisdiction capital, Itanagar are directed to comply with the government direction and temporarily suspend their mobile internet services including WiFi services…” — State Government order

Internet shutdowns cost India $582.8 million in 2021

There has been a total of 317.5 hours of internet shutdowns in India in 2021 which cost the country a total of $582.8 million (or 58.28 crores), according to research by Top10VPN.com.

Overall, India is among the top three countries where the cost of internet shutdowns is the highest. This research sourced incidences of internet outages from Netblocks’ real-time graphic data and SFLC.in’s Internet Shutdown Tracker. Top10VPN said that the economic cost of internet shutdown is calculated using the Netblocks and the Internet Society’s Cost of Shutdown Tool, which is based on the Brookings Institution method.

Some recent internet shutdowns in India

  • In December, mobile internet and bulk SMS services were restored in the Mon district of Nagaland after over 12 hours of shutdown, amidst violence in the area
  • Maharashtra government imposed restrictions on mobile internet and SMS services in the Amravati district, after unrest in the area.
  • Rajasthan government shut down the internet in various districts to curb cheating during the administrative services examination being held in the state in October.
  • Kashmir saw restrictions on mobile internet services amidst civilian killings in October.
  • Haryana government restricted mobile internet services in at least three districts of Haryana in view of the Kisan Mahapanchayat in Karnal in September.

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Among other subjects, I cover the increasing usage of emerging technologies, especially for surveillance in India

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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