Forced Internet Shutdowns in times of Online Everything

Forced Internet Shutdowns in times of Online Everything

Internet Suspended Not acceptable Udaipur Rajasthan

Why is it that the Administrative departments including Police Department so obsessed with shutting down Internet Services during competitive examinations? Was the Internet Shutdown during JEE Main or NEET or any other competitive examination? Will the Internet be Shutdown during the JEE Advanced Examination in the coming month?

Internet Shutdown has become the Knee-Jerk reaction of the administration when it comes to Competitive Examination for Government examinations and this has become the norm over the last few years. There are other means such as mobile jammers, localised shutdown near the examination centers, etc, which can be used if the situation is about public law and order. Creating an unwarranted assumption that the presence of Internet services, which falls under essential services specially during the COVID times will be causing disruption to law and order has become the order of the day and the public is helpless.

The recent Internet shutdown that has been announced on 26 September, which falls on a Sunday has not gone down well with the public. The Udaipur Chambers of Commerce and Industry has presented their case in the form of a memorandum to the Collector of Udaipur expresing anguish on this decision. The memorandum is a plea to the administrative heads of the district of Udaipur, viz. the Collector and the Divisional Commissioner, to keep in view that such random disconnect of the district with the rest of the world causes unwarranted commercial disruption.

Further, In COVID times, a high dependence on Internet has been outwardly visible. Not just commercial transctions, but education, school and college examinations, ordering of food online, ordering of groceries, urgent connect with families is all dependent on the Internet. What of those students who are appearing for a college examination on 26 September sitting at home, while their college is in Chennai or Mumbai for example. Where do they go? Aged Parents who need to connect with their children outside India are dependent on the Internet. International Telephone calls are costly.

The UCCI in its memorandum to the District Collector and Divisional Commissioner has cited the order of the Rajasthan High Court (Jodhpur Bench) which after hearing a similar petition in 2018, ordered all administrative heads in the state to abstain from disconnecting internet services during competitive examinations, as it does not fall under disruption of public law and order.

We expect that the district and state administrative heads will be rational in their approach and not subject the general public especially students, who are already distraught and struggling with the new normal.

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