“Dear customer, in accordance with government instructions, Internet services have been temporarily interrupted in your area.” Internet users in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir received this text message on their phones when a state-wide Internet shutdown was imposed on August 4, when section 370 of the Constitution was repealed. It was part of a communications blockade in the state that has still not been lifted.
This week, after the Indian Parliament passed a controversial citizenship amendment bill that excludes Muslims from accelerated citizenship for immigrants in the region, violent demonstrations took place in Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya, and Arunachal Pradesh states in northeast India, and a well-known story unfolded. As the unrest intensified, the government took inspiration from authoritarianism and closed down the Internet in all four states. First for a few hours, then for days. It will not be surprising to see more districts and states immersed in digital repression in the coming weeks as the protests spread.
— NDTV (@ndtv) December 13, 2019
Internet and all communication lines shut off in Tripura after reported clashes. pic.twitter.com/Mxpp2k8ugj
— Makepeace Sitlhou (@makesyoucakes) December 10, 2019
Internet services in UP's Aligarh district suspended till 5 pm in view of protests planned against amended #CitizenshipAct
— Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) December 13, 2019