Rajasthan sees 3rd mobile internet shutdown in 3 weeks over exam

JAIPUR: Rajasthan’s experienced a complete shutdown of mobile internet – the third such “curfew” in 22 days – on Sunday with data services being suspended for four hours in several cities, including state capital Jaipur.

The government said the measure was in response to the “organized cheating” witnessed in the Rajasthan State and Subordinate Services Combined Competitive Examination (Preliminary) examination conducted in March, 2018, which was subsequently scrapped.

The shutdown, however, was criticised by residents of Jodhpur, Ajmer and Bharatpur, whose lives were brought to a grinding halt because of lack of connectivity. The frequent disruptions has caused resentment among people who questioned the intention and efficacy of the state administration.

“If the government cannot conduct exams without shutting down the internet services there is something seriously wrong in the system. On one hand the government encourages digital economy while on the hand it does not bat an eyelid while disrupting services,” said Rahul Kumawat, a resident of the city.

According to Software Freedom Law Centre (SFLC), which that works on protecting freedom in the digital world, internet services in Rajasthan have been suspended 26 times in 2018, next to only Jammu and Kashmir, which recorded 32 disruptions.

“The increasing number of internet blackouts do not reflect the security situation in the country. Rather, it’s a manifestation of government high-handedness,” said head of a telecom company in the Pink City.

Taking cognisance of a PIL on the subject, Rajasthan High Court questioned the state government last month, asking it to explain the law which gives them the authority for net clampdown during recruitment exams.

In August last year, department of telecommunications made new rules under ‘Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017 authorizing state home secretary to issue orders for net services.

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