Suspension of Internet services for 85 times in the last 10 years is being termed as Digital Emergency in Rajasthan.After the brutal beheading of Kanhaiya Lal in Udaipur on June 28, the state suspended mobile internet services across Rajasthan.
Thereafter, the internet suspension continues in all divisions of the state, except the Bikaner division.Rajasthan has witnessed internet suspension for around 85 times in the last decade, placing the state second after Jammu and Kashmir when it comes to suspending net service over law and order issues.
It's been five days since the state suspended internet and the common people here are left to suffer, as they can neither book cabs, nor attend online classes. Also, making online payment has become a challenge.
Atharv, a first year B.Tech student, says, "We have become used to this digital emergency ('Netbandi'), which is imposed after any incidence of violence, riot, among others.
However, this time the 'emergency' has come during our exams when going to college is a challenge amid heavy rains. Roads are all filled with water. And we can't even book cabs."
Another Jaipur resident said, "My phone screen was damaged and I had to go to the service centre, which asked me to pay Rs 19,000 via UPI or cash. As internet was not working, I had to rush to ATMs where there were long queues.
By the time my turn came, the cash was exhausted. Now I am managing without a phone, as I have no patience to go to another ATM and face similar woes."
"When tension erupted in Karauli on Ram Navami in April, clashes were reported in the neighbouring state of Madhya Pradesh. Curfew was clamped there; however, the MP government did not suspend net services," said Atharv's friend, Apoorv.
While the officials say that shutting down internet services would stop the spreading of rumours, Netizens are debating why the government is suspending the internet instead of blocking social media apps like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
"Rumour-mongers are continuing to spew venom on social media with the help of broadband connections," said Mukta, a business woman new to the city, who is facing difficulty in attending meetings as the Google Map on her phone is not working.
"The state government should consider providing internet services as a fundamental right. If not, it should re-read the Supreme Court comment made in January 2020, which said "internet is a fundamental right of the people under Article 19 of the Constitution'.
Which means it is as important as the right to live. Net services cannot be shut down indefinitely. This is more like a Digital Emergency," she added.
Meanwhile, as the series of bandhs called by different organisations continues in the state, many online services like online payments, mobile banking, cab booking, online home delivery etc. lie suspended.
However, state Home Minister Rajendra Yadav said, "The internet services have been suspended to check the spreading of rumours. There is no other way than 'Netbandi' to check rumour spread."