Singer-actor Rihanna on Tuesday, 2 February, took to Twitter to share a story by news outlet CNN on the internet blockade imposed in some districts of several states around Delhi, in view of the farmers’ protest against the Centre’s new farm laws.
“Why aren’t we talking about this?!” she wrote on the platform, adding the hashtag #FarmersProtest.
WHAT DOES THE ARTICLE SHARED BY RIHANNA SAY?
The CNN news article shared by Rihanna spoke about how internet access in several areas bordering Delhi was blocked even as of Monday “following violent weekend clashes between police and farmers protesting controversial agricultural reforms.”
“The internet restrictions came after violent scenes last week as demonstrations continue against three agricultural laws passed in September,” the story further read, going on to detail the progression of the farmers’ protracted protests against the Centre’s farm laws.
The story quoted several farmers’ leaders who have condemned the internet restrictions imposed and also mentioned the arrest of Mandeep Punia, the journalist who had been arrested from Singhu border on Saturday, in a section where it spoke about concerns over democracy in India.
In the article, CNN also explained the reason behind the farmers’ protests, writing that they “have been a significant challenge to Modi as months of demonstrations and sit-ins across the country against his key agricultural policy have grown into a stalemate marked by deadlocked talks between farmers and his administration.”
WHAT HAD HAPPENED IN DELHI?
On Saturday, the Union Home Ministry had passed an order temporarily suspending internet services at Delhi borders – Singhu, Ghazipur, and Tikri – the epicenters of the farmers’ protest from 11 pm of 29 January till 11 pm of 31 January.
The order, released on Saturday, 30 January, said that this was being done “in the interest of maintaining public safety and averting public emergency”.
Even on Tuesday, Haryana extended the suspension of mobile Internet services till 5 pm on Wednesday in seven districts of the state amid the protests, reported PTI.
"The Haryana government has extended the suspension of mobile Internet services (2G/3G/4G/CDMA/GPRS), SMS services (only bulk SMS) and all dongle services etc. provided on mobile networks except the voice calls in seven districts – Kaithal, Panipat, Jind, Rohtak, Charkhi Dadri, Sonipat and Jhajjar – till 5 pm on 3 February," an official statement said.
HOW DID THE MHA DO THIS?
The MHA has invoked the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety Rules 2017) of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 to suspend the internet in the borders and adjoining areas.
This is the same provision used for internet shutdowns from time to time across the country, including, in particular, Jammu and Kashmir, where it is currently being used to keep mobile internet speeds at 2G levels.
Internet services have been crucial in disseminating information from the protest sites for some time now, with protesters running several social media accounts, and digital news media outlets also using internet services to send videos of events on the ground.
(With inputs from PTI.)