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Mobile internet services restored in India's Assam, blocked elsewhere

Christian Fernsby |
Authorities in the northeastern state of Assam Friday resumed mobile internet services, 10 days after it was suspended in the wake of violent protests over the controversial new citizenship law.

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"The services have been resumed as the situation has returned to normal in the state," said an official in Dispur, the capital city of Assam.

On Friday the service was resumed from 9:00 a.m. local time.

The mobile and broadband internet services in the state were snapped on Dec. 11 following a statewide protest against the citizenship bill. Four people were killed in police firing on protesters and the state witnessed several incidents of arson last week.

Officials said broadband services were restored in Assam on Tuesday.

Protests erupted across India and inside universities against the new citizenship law after the Indian parliament last week passed the law that aims at granting citizenship to illegal immigrants belonging to six religions Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, Parsi and Christianity from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Opposition parties and civil society members in India criticize the law as contrary to secular principles enshrined in India's constitution as it excludes Muslims.

With this new law, the government would grant Indian citizenship to those non-Muslim immigrants who had entered the country illegally until Dec. 31, 2014. But people in the northeastern states fear granting of citizenship to immigrants would endanger their status.

However, the mobile internet and text messaging ban has been put in place meanwhile on Friday in several parts of the northern state of Uttar Pradesh including the capital city Lucknow.

On Thursday the state witnessed massive protests and violent clashes over the citizenship law. The protesters threw stones on police and resorted to arson by setting several vehicles and police posts on fire in Lucknow and other places.

Apart from Lucknow, the cities facing internet shutdowns in Uttar Pradesh are Ghaziabad, Pilibhit, Sambhal, Bareilly and Meerut.

Mobile internet services have been suspended in the violence-hit Mangaluru and Dakshina Kannada districts of the southern Karnataka state for 48 hours from Thursday night, after two people died in police firing. A curfew has been declared in Mangaluru.

On Thursday voice, internet and text services were temporarily snapped in parts of Delhi as people defied the prohibitory orders and came out on the streets in hundreds in protest of the citizenship law. However, the service was resumed late in the night.

According to Internet Shutdowns, a website tracking the suspension of the internet in India, 101 incidents of internet shutdowns have been ordered by the officials in India in 2019, compared with 134 cases last year.

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