The Indian government on Wednesday announced that access to mobile internet would be blocked in 10 of the 33 districts of the country’s northeastern state of Assam for the next 24-hours, starting from 7 o’clock this evening.
A government notification said the decision to impose a communication lockdown in Assam was taken in the wake of protests and unrest intensifying across the state and the rest of the northeastern region over the contentious 2019 Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) which is being debated in Parliament.
A couple of hours earlier, responding to rumours of the government imposing a 48-hour-long Internet ban in the state of Assam as well, the Press Information Bureau, the nodal agency for media in India, said in a tweet that this news was untrue.
#PIBFactCheck— PIB India (@PIB_India) December 11, 2019
Claim: 48 hours Internet Ban in #Assam to start from 12:00 AM on Dec 11, 2019
Reality: As of now, no such Internet Ban has been announced in Assam.
Conclusion: #FakeNews pic.twitter.com/j2D1eAMRTc
The confirmation of the communication lockdown came as tens of thousands of protesters from all walks of life came out on the streets of Assam on Wednesday and clashed with police over the Bill, plunging Assam into a state of chaos. To restore a semblance of order, the army and paramilitary forces had to be deployed.
Although no party or student body has called for a shutdown, protesters, mostly students, engaged in pitched battles with security forces in the restive state ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Police had to fire tear gas shells and launch a baton charge in several places to keep protesters at bay.
The CAB-2019 is being hotly debated in the upper house of the Indian Parliament, the Rajya Sabha, after its passage by the lower house Lok Sabha on Tuesday morning.
The CAB seeks to ensure Indian nationality for non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha after a division of votes, with 311 in its favour and 80 against it, after an eight-hour-long debate.