Rajasthan experienced 21 unreported internet shutdowns between August 7, 2017, and May 1, according to legal services organisation Software Freedom Law Centre. The organisation compiled the data using information revealed by the Rajasthan Home Ministry and other government departments in response to a Right to Information query.
The organisation has been monitoring internet shutdowns across India as part of its endeavour to highlight “an increase in the frequency” of periods of internet suspension imposed by local authorities, which cite varied reasons such curbing unrest and preventing cheating during exams.
The Software Freedom Law Centre makes information about internet shutdowns across India available through an interactive tracker on www.internetshutdowns.in. The organisation said its data, gathered from media reports and inputs from citizens, revealed that three shutdowns were reported in 2012 in India, all of them in Jammu and Kashmir. Five years later, the nationwide count had risen to 70 shutdowns across 19 states.
This year, 68 shutdowns have been reported in 14 states till July, the centre said.
The organisation said India’s tally of 197 shutdowns since 2012 is the highest recorded across the globe. It speculated that the number could be higher as its tracker did not account for unreported incidents of internet access being curbed.
The RTI application to Rajasthan
The legal services organisation said it selected the August 2017-May 2018 time frame as the state government enacted a law on August 8, 2017, that enabled it to impose these curbs. “There was a good chance that consolidated data on shutdowns imposed under the rules would be available with Central and state Home Departments,” the organisation wrote in a blog post.
The organisation said the Home Department had said it would receive information from various government departments. “As of the time of writing this blog post, we have received further replies from 21 of the 33 districts in Rajasthan, revealing that there have been 35 instances of internet shutdowns,” the Software Freedom Law Centre added.