Editorial

Internet shutdowns

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 12/19/2019 11:34:04 AM IST

 It is ironic that when there is universal recognition that Information and Technology and internet arethe most important paths to progress; these are now under restriction by various governments. Internet shutdown and check on information sharing are becoming an aspect of the central and state governments as they grapple to tackle agitations. This has become the practice since 2014 when internet services were suspended 357 times. India also holds the record for having 67% of the world’s internet shutdowns in 2018. In 2019 alone there have been 93 internet shutdowns. The most profound shutdown of the internet was since August 4, 2019 in Jammu & Kashmir when parliament abrogated Article 370. Internet services have only been partially lifted till now. The longest shutdown was also in J&K in 2016 when public outcry led to massive agitation by public over the killing of Burhan Wani on July 8, 2016. Mobile and internet services were suspended for 133 days and only resumed in January 2017. Although internet shutdown in J&K is ongoing, there not too many who are concerned. Recently, after large parts of Assam experienced a massive outcry against the proposed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, internet services were shutdown for over three days. After the protest against the CAA, internet has been shut down in the Murshidabad, Malda, Howrah, North 24-Parganas, and South 24-Parganas districts of West Bengal on December 15. There have been several other local Internet shutdowns as the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Bill, passed by Parliament earlier this week, have raged across the country.Protests against the CAA has been gathering storm across India even as the Modi government grapples with the magnitude of the public outcry. In order to imposed blackout on news or information, as the protests over a controversial citizenship law grows; the authorities have taken the easy way out by shutting down the internet in cities where demonstrators flooded the streets.These are the latest shutdowns in a country which has seen the highest number of internet blocks in the world so far this year. While union home minister Amit Shah claimed that the CAA will not take away citizenship from any Indian and neither was it directed against any particular religion; prime minister Modi promised that his government would ensure protection of the rights and culture of the Assamese people. The CAA seeks to grant Indian citizenship to illegal Bangladeshi non-Muslim immigrants who have sneaked into India. This crucial religious criteria over the illegal immigrants clearly indicates that the CAA is biased against Muslims. Also the assurances made by the prime minister on protecting the rights and culture of the Assamese people when CAA is enforced does not address the genuine concerns of the Assamese people– legalising illegal immigration by granting Indian citizenship to around 30 to 40 lakh Bangladeshi Hindu immigrants. In another way, the government has shown disdain for the rights of the people no matter how inconvenient. Internet shutdown appears to be like a knee jerk reaction to public protests. The Internet is pretty much a basic human right, even if not legally defined as such, for most parts of the world - without access to the virtual world, a very large number of vital human activities simply stop. The habitual habit of internet shutdown is progress reversal which exacts its consequences in the long run.

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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