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Punjab internet shutdown extended; Amritpal Singh on-the-run

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As the crackdown on the known Khalistan sympathiser, Amritpal Singh, continues in India concerns have been raised on the extension of mobile internet services by the government thereby cutting 27 million people from the world.

As per the official order from Punjab’s home department, all mobile internet services (2G, 3G, 4G, 5G, CDMA, GPRS), all SMS services (excluding banking and mobile recharge) and all dongle services provided on mobile networks, except voice calls, in the territorial jurisdiction in Punjab shall be further suspended from Sunday noon to Monday noon in continuation of Friday’s order.

However, people can still use broadband connections in offices and homes.

The order further reads: “Whereas, Director General of Police, Punjab has brought to my notice that certain sections of society are likely to threaten public order by incitement to violence as also resorting to widespread violence with an aim to stoke and cause communal tension, obstruction or injury to persons, danger to human life and property, disturbance of public peace and tranquillity thereby threatening public safety and public order in the State of Punjab.”

As per the order, this step has been taken to curb the incitement of violence by certain sections of society, posing a danger to human life and property, and disturbing public peace and tranquillity. In recent years and the Indian authorities have ordered internet shutdowns more than any other government.

In January 2020, the Supreme Court of India held in the Anuradha Bhasin case that access to information via the internet is a fundamental right and ruled that any restrictions on the internet should be temporary, limited in scope, lawful, necessary and proportionate.

India has a history of internet crackdowns with the longest one in Jammu and Kashmir which lasted for more than 144 days. Internet shutdowns in India cost $174.6 million in 2022. In 2020, the country’s internet shutdown losses accounted for more than 70% of the total loss to the global economy.

As of now, Amritpal Singh is still on the run and has been declared a fugitive by the government.

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Kumar Hemant

Kumar Hemant

Deputy Editor at Candid.Technology. Hemant writes at the intersection of tech and culture and has a keen interest in science, social issues and international relations. You can contact him here: kumarhemant@pm.me

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