India gets more aggressive with internet shutdowns to control protesters

Internet Shutdown in India
https://www.flickr.com/photos/mdiallo/

Recently, India shut down internet service and suspended mobile communication for millions of people to stop the ongoing protests. The internet shutdowns have started in multiple states of the country.   

The Indian government, led by Narendra Modi, shut down mobile communications in Tripura, Meghalaya, and Assam. Moreover, the government also shut down connections in Uttar Pradesh. Recently, New Delhi moved to extend the suspension in Mangalore and the Indian capital.   

On Thursday morning, three telecom networks, Vodafone, Airtel, and Reliance Jio, starting cutting mobile communications in different areas of New Delhi. All three networks said that they were following the government’s orders.   

According to the users, the services were back to normal by the afternoon. However, India has the worst record of internet shutdowns in the world. Therefore, just hours later, the Indian government ordered a shutdown of Mangalore, a commercial center in the state of Karnataka.  

This move of internet shutdowns by India is an effort to silence millions of people in the nation. The people are protesting against the new citizenship law, which discriminates against the Muslim community. New Delhi passed a bill last week, which allows citizenship to immigrants from different religions except for Islam. This new law is just one of many actions taken by the Modi government that destroys the secular traditions of the country.  

Internet shutdowns due to protests
https://www.flickr.com/photos/185569320@N03/

On Thursday, a large number of people from different parts of Mumbai, Mangalore, New Delhi, and several areas of India came to the streets to force the government to change its mind. However, the police retaliated against the protestors, and two people were shot dead in Mangalore.  

In an op-ed piece, The New York Times criticized the actions of the Indian government. The article said, “The core message is that the Muslims persecute the Hindus and other minorities, so the Muslims can’t be taken as refugees. However, Indian Muslims have correctly pointed out that the law has nothing to do with migrant issues. It is a campaign of Prime Minister Modi and his home minister, Amit Shah, to turn India into a homeland exclusively for the Hindus, which comprise 80% of the 1.3 billion population of India.” 

Many film stars and other public figures joined these protests on Thursday. However, a group that wasn’t seen anywhere was the startup ecosystem. A prominent angel investor in India said that the Indian venture capitalists and founders wouldn’t be joining the protests because they don’t want to upset the government officials.  

However, Tim Draper, an influential venture capitalist, said that he had enough of it. He tweeted that this step by the government made him concerned about his plans to do business in India.  

Internet shutdowns aren’t uncommon in other regions of the world. However, India takes these shutdowns to the extreme. Moreover, these harsh measures come at a time when there is an internet shutdown in Jammu and Kashmir for the 137th day of Thursday.  

However, not everyone is against the steps of the Indian government. The Chinese state media stated this week that this measure by India indicates that shutting down the internet should be a standard practice among nations, to prevent chaos. The media also said, “India didn’t hesitate to shut down internet services when there was a threat to national security. China’s Xinjiang region faced a similar situation, and the Chinese government adopted a similar strategy.” 

 

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