Sterlite Row: Internet Suspended Amid Protests and Mounting Deaths
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The Tamil Nadu government ordered suspension of internet services in Tuticorin and adjoining districts of Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari for five days, on 23 May, to prevent spread of rumours through social media and help bring public tranquility.
Blaming provocative messages spread through social media, the government in an order said such messages led to a massive gathering of about 20,000 people on 22 May in Tuticorin against Sterlite's copper plant which subsequently resulted in violence and police action.
Claiming that anti-social elements were trying to exploit the situation, the government directed nodal officers of Internet Service Providers in these three districts to suspend internet services till 27 May effective from 23 May.
Passing the order under Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017 – Stoppage of internet services – the government said a public emergency has arisen necessitating immediate action to bring public tranquility.
Citing a communique in this respect from the Director General of Police, the order said "it is felt necessary that the services of internet should be stopped/curtailed to prevent spread of such rumours."
Also, the government said the temporary restriction was in the interest of maintaining public order and preventing incitement to commission of any offence.
Actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan slammed the suspension of internet services in the areas, stating that it would lead to a much bigger uprising, bigger than any in the history of Tamil Nadu.
Eleven persons have died in police firing during the anti-copper plant violence at Tuticorin so far, while many have been injured in clashes with security personnel.