CAA Protests: Internet Suspended in UP, Assam and Karnataka

“We are bound by the order of the government,” says Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman of Airtel. 

3 min read

Video Editor: Vishal Kumar

Amid protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), internet, voice and messaging services provided by telecom service providers, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio were suspended in parts of Delhi-NCR on 19 December, following instructions from the government. Internet was also suspended in various areas across UP, including Prayagraj and Meerut.

In Delhi, Airtel services were also suspended for almost three hours before the telecom company restored it around 2:30 pm, reported PTI.

Responding to Airtel’s suspension of services, founder chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal said that the company is only following government orders.

“We are bound by the order of the government. We are following their order.”
Sunil Bharti Mittal, founder chairman, Airtel

Internet Suspended in UP, Assam and Karnataka

Internet was suspended in Prayagraj till 10:00 am on Friday, 20 December, and Section 144 imposed in some districts across the state with the intention to curtail protests against CAA. The internet has also been been suspended in Ghaziabad, Meerut and Bareilly.

In Aligarh, 10 companies of Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) and four companies of Rapid Action Force (RAF) have been deployed as a precautionary measure. A red alert was sounded and heavy security cover arranged. This has been done in anticipation of unrest around the first Friday prayers which will be held since the brutal crackdown of the police on the students of Aligarh Muslim University.

In Assam, internet suspension was lifted as telecom operators did not receive fresh orders from authorities. Broadband connections has also been restored in Assam.

The Karnataka government had on Thursday night also issued a notification prohibiting mobile internet data service of all service providers for the next 48 hour in the jurisdiction of Mangaluru City and Dakshina Kannada district.

Delhi Govt Order That Called for Suspending Services

As per the order, services were suspended for locations including walled city areas of north and central districts, Mandi House, Seelampur, Jaffarbad, Mustafabad, Jamia Nagar, Shaheen Bagh and Bawana.

“In view of the prevailing law and order situation, it is hereby directed that communication of all types i.e. voice, SMS and internet, be halted from 0900 hours to 1300 hours in Cell IDs/BTS (base transceiver stations) covering the following areas for 19-12-2019,” stated the order issued by Deputy Commissioner of Police, Special Cell.

CAA Protests: Internet Suspended in UP, Assam and Karnataka
(Photo: The Quint)

Earlier, Airtel had said that the internet was suspended ‘as per instructions from govt. authorities.’

CAA Protests: Internet Suspended in UP, Assam and Karnataka
(Photo Courtesy: Airtel India)
CAA Protests: Internet Suspended in UP, Assam and Karnataka
(Photo Courtesy: Airtel India)

Meanwhile, Section 144 of the IPC has been imposed in Red Fort area and the North District in Delhi. Permission for two of the major protests in the city — Red Fort to Shaheed Park, and Mandi House to Parliament Street – by Delhi police.

Is the Order Illegal?

But is this order illegal? According to the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services rules, only a secretary Home or Joint Commissioner can issue a temporary shutdown. This order has been issued by a Deputy Commissioner of Police.

‘Modi Officially Going to Declare Emergency’

Meanwhile, many citizens had taken to Twitter to complain of “slow internet services” across ITO.

While Rishi Suri wrote, “Let this sink in... the Internet has been shut down at ITO, where a lot of the newspapers publish from!,” Regina tweeted, “Internet slowdowns being reported around ITO Delhi, especially Airtel users.”

During the protest, several people, including noted historian Ramchandra Guha and politician and political analyst Yogendra Yadav were also detained at the protest on Thursday.

(With inputs from PTI and India Today)

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