Kashmir Indepth

India continues to be the internet shutdown capital of the world

J&K witnesses highest number of clampdown

Srinagar Dec 18: India Today Data Intelligence Unit (DIU) analyzed Internet shutdowns in the country and found that terror activities and communal tensions have been the biggest contributors to suspension of services.

According to India Today Data Intelligence Unit (DIU) has investigated Internet shutdowns in the country and found that terror activities and communal tensions have been the biggest contributors to suspension of services. Data prepared by slfc.in and internetshutdowns.com showed a total of 357 instances of Internet shutdowns in India since 2014.

“India witnessed six Internet shutdowns in 2014 which rose to 14 in 2015. In 2016, it more than doubled to 31, and in 2017, it reached 79. The number peaked in 2018 to 134, and by December 15, 2019, there have been 93 Internet shutdowns”, reveals investigation.

According to Shutdown Tracker Optimization Project data by accessnow.com, a website based on Internet activism, 67 per cent of the world’s Internet shutdowns in 2018 were in India.

Data collected by the same organization from January to July 2019 showed that India continues to be the Internet shutdown capital of the world. By the end of July 2019, there were 80 Internet shutdowns in India, which again forms 67 per cent of the world’s total Internet shutdowns (120).

It said, some recent decisions of the Union government such as abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act have led to violent protests in parts of the country, forcing the administration to suspend internet services to prevent from rumor-mongering and violence.

Giving a timeline of internet shutdown in Kashmir Valley, the investigations revealed by Data Intelligence Unit (DIU) broke down the numbers into states and instances of Internet shutdown. The number of times Internet shutdowns impacted an area is calculated on the basis of shutdown announcements in a particular area. For instance, if Internet was suspended in Pulwama on 15 different occasions, the area was impacted 15 times.

It said in 2019, internet shutdowns were announced in India 93 times, which impacted a total of 167 areas. Of these, Jammu and Kashmir witnessed the highest number of shutdowns at 53, affecting 93 areas, which is 59 per cent of the total Internet shutdown announcements and 56 per cent of the total area impacted in India this year.

Since August 5, when the Centre bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir and scrapped Article 370, internet services have been snapped in the erstwhile state. Militancy-related issues topped the reasons for Internet shutdowns in the Valley.

In February this year, India lost 40 CRPF jawans in a major terror attack in Kashmir’s Pulwama. The DIU has found that among the areas that witnessed multiple internet shutdowns, Pulwama was impacted the most. Internet ban was announced here 15 times.

“In terms of the number of internet shutdowns in Kashmir, Pulwama was followed by Shopian (11), Kulgam (9), Baramulla (9), Anantnag (8), Kupwara (6), Srinagar (6) and Budgam (5)”, investigation revealed.

Meanwhile the Congress-led Rajasthan witnessed the second highest number of areas impacted by internet shutdowns at 18. Communal tensions due to rumor mongering were a major reason of internet shutdowns in the western state.

“Following Rajasthan in terms of areas impacted due to internet shutdown were Assam (12), Uttar Pradesh (11) and West Bengal (9)”, says data.

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