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Data Story: Internet Curfew Up 18 Times In India Between 2012 And 2017

Out of the total number of 114 internet shutdowns in the five year period, nearly 53 were reported from Jammu and Kashmir.

Tushar Dhara | News18.com

Updated:September 20, 2017, 3:12 PM IST
Data Story: Internet Curfew Up 18 Times In India Between 2012 And 2017
Mobile internet service towers. (photo for representation. image: News18)

New Delhi: Internet shutdowns increased 18-fold in India between 2012 and 2017. Data compiled by the website www.internetshutdowns.in shows that from 3 such cases in 2012, India had 55 in 2017. Breaking down the data shows that it's not as simple as saying India saw an exponential rise in government-backed internet shutdowns. Further, the granular data points to some interesting trends.

First, let's disaggregate the data.

Out of the total number of 114 internet shutdowns in the five year period, nearly 53 were reported from Jammu and Kashmir. Even in J&K, the last two years (2016 and 2017, which are co-terminus with the killing of Burhan Wani and its aftermath) accounted for 66% of suspension of internet services.


If you take Jammu & Kashmir out of the matrix and examine the data for the rest of India, you get 61 shutdowns in the last 5 years. This is where the data gets interesting and trends start to emerge.

- Just three states – Haryana, Rajasthan and Gujarat – account for 57% of the shutdowns and the bulk of them happened in 2016 and 2017. Governments in these 3 states imposed 35 internet blackouts, of which 28 happened in the last two years.

- In Gujarat the Patel agitation and caste and communal clashes were responsible; In Rajasthan communal/caste clashes, the Jat agitation and farmers' stir and Gurmeet Ram Rahim's arrest were the reasons; in Haryana the two reasons were the Jat agitations in 2016 and Gurmeet Ram Rahim's conviction in 2017.

The next biggest chunk of internet shutdowns are from the Eastern and Northeastern States , UP, West Bengal, Bihar and Nagaland. But these only account for 21% of internet shutdowns from 2012-17.

Interestingly, the Southern states and Goa did not have a single internet blackout. The IT hubs of Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Chennai are located in this region and even floods and social unrest (Tamil Nadu), State bifurcation violence (Andhra/Telangana); River sharing protests (Karnataka/Tamil Nadu) did not lead to the internet being blocked by Southern governments.

So what are the trends that emerge from the data?

- Nearly 84% of internet shutdowns happened in 2016 and 2017.

- If internet shutdowns are taken as a proxy for wider tensions in society, then in the last two years, more than half of the shutdowns (57% to be precise) happened in 3 states (Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Chandigarh)

- The reasons were mainly caste and communal conflict, but also godmen and farmers' stirs.

- The South witnessed no shutdowns.

| Edited by: Bijaya Das
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