The Internet blackout at the Tikri, Singhu, and Ghazipur borders and nearby areas on Saturday has taken the total number of internet blackout incidences in the country to ten alone in less than 40 days of the year 2021. According to an Indian Express report, different state governments and the central government have cumulatively suspended the internet about ten times in different parts of the country in the year 2021. Tikri, Singhu, and Ghazipur which have become the most prominent farmer protest sites against the farm acts passed by the parliament have had virtually no internet connectivity since the Republic day this year which witnessed violence at the Red Fort and other areas of the national capital.
In addition to the internet, SMS and other connectivity services were also suspended for more than 24 hours at a stretch in the state of Haryana and national capital at least once in the past month. It is pertinent to note that the country also holds the notorious record of suspending the high speed internet for a period of 552 days in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir after the former state was bifurcated and demoted to a Union Territory by the NDA government in August, 2019. It was on the last Friday that the 4G services were restored in the militancy hit Union Territory after a ban that lasted for close to 1.5 years. The state which has seen the second highest incidences of internet ban after J&K is Rajasthan.
Due to its at the drop of a hat internet bans, the country has also been on the top globally when it comes to curtailing the right to access the internet in the last 10 years. In the last 2 years, according to data collected by various independent auditors, the country has witnessed the suspension of internet and other communication services for a total of 13000 hours in different parts of the country.
The Indian Express report quoted the data issued by Top10VPN.com, a global virtual private network (VPN) review website which showed that India as a result of frequent internet bans has incurred losses of $2.5 billion and $1.3 billion in the year 2020 and 2019 respectively. Internet and other allied services can be suspended by resorting to the Indian Telegraph Act of 1885. For suspending the internet, the officials have to first take the consent from either the Home Secretary of the state or the Home Secretary of the Union government.