Six days after Hardik Patel's mammoth Patel rally in Ahmedabad, the people of Gujarat had reached the end of their tether. The violence that erupted in the aftermath of the rally on August 25 was brought under control within two days, curfew was lifted almost everywhere by August 28 and life could have gone back to normal for everyone by now. But it hasn't, because of the Gujarat government's refusal to re-start mobile internet and text message services for residents of the state.

The state had initially declared that it would lift the ban on 2G, 3G services and SMS services by August 31. But as the authorities continued to spend Monday “reviewing the situation”, Gujaratis in most major cities and towns had to live and work without texting, sending Whatsapp messages, using certain broadband services and making online purchases and transactions.

By Monday evening, some net users in Mumbai were also unable to access Twitter and Facebook as an effect of the same block.

Internet and social media blockages have been a regular feature of governance in sensitive states like Jammu and Kashmir, but for the people of Gujarat, this is a first. Besides the Rs 5-crore losses that telecom companies are allegedly suffering every day, the ban has left citizens feeling frustrated, indignant and patronised.

“For how long will the government decide whether we can communicate with each other normally? It's not like the situation is spinning out of control – things have been quiet and calm for at least four days in most places of the city and state,” said a Patidar youth from Ahmedabad who did not wish to be named.

In the sensitive Patel-dominated neighbourhoods of Ahmedabad, where teams of riot police were caught on CCTV cameras breaking into homes, thrashing men and women and smashing scores of cars on August 25 and 26, residents are certain they know why the net has been banned. “The authorities don't want us to spread the truth about police atrocities far and wide,” said Mahesh Patel, a resident of Bapunagar in Ahmedabad, where 32-year-old Shwetang Patel died after being beaten in police custody.

The arbitrary nature of the ban has been puzzling for many. In Ahmedabad, for instance, Facebook has been functioning normally for at least three days on Wi-fi connections. In Surat, many internet users complained that they were unable to access Facebook, even though other websites functioned normally on Wi-fi.

“Some areas of Surat got all their internet and SMS back today, but we're still waiting,” said a businesswoman from Surat, who feels stuck because she hasn't been able to make any online purchases or travel bookings for days. “What do we do in case of emergencies when we really need to get messages across to people? The government cannot clamp down on us like this.”

If the experience of being unconnected to the world for almost a week feels undemocratic to most, it has also been ironically democratic by sparing no one.

When met a prominent Congress leader in Gandhinagar on August 28, the politician seemed equally frustrated. “Not being able to send any messages is quite a pain,” he said.