The internet services on mobile networks as well as wired connections have been suspended in many parts of the country, as part of security measures in the lead-up to the Ayodhya land dispute verdict by the Supreme Court and the possible law and order fallout from that. O.P Singh, director general of police (DGP) in Uttar Pradesh, mentioned in a statement that a total of 31 sensitive districts and 673 individuals are being closely monitored in terms of communal reactions, and internet connectivity in these districts can be shut at any time to control any domino effect.
Alongside Agra and Aligarh (where internet services were shut down post midnight yesterday), some of the other districts that are being monitored include Lucknow, Prayagraj, Moradabad, Meerut, Gorakhpur and Varanasi. Furthermore, Section 144 has been invoked in Jaipur, and is currently in place to safeguard against the possibility of any communal conflict.
These data services are expected to remain suspended till after the verdict, and restoration will be dependent on the law and order situation in what the state government considers as sensitive areas. There are reports that internet services have also been shut down in Jaipur and Bharatpur for a period of 24-hours, as of 10am today. These measures come at a time when there has been additional central paramilitary personnel deployment in Uttar Pradesh and there is extra vigil on possible fake news and intent to raise communal sentiments on social media.
The PTI has reported that the state government has identified 31 districts as sensitive while Section 144 under CrPC, prohibiting gathering of five or more persons, has already been imposed across Uttar Pradesh. Internet shutdowns are usually put in place by governments who believe this helps in curbing the spread of misinformation on social media platforms and instant messaging apps such as Twitter and WhatsApp.