CHENNAI: Even as normalcy is yet to be restored in Thoothukudi district after the police firing which claimed many lives, the State government has directed service providers to stop internet services for five days from Wednesday – till May 27 – throughout Thoothukudi, Tirunelveli and Kanniyakumari, “to prevent spreading of provocative messages with half-truth.” This has been done under Sub-rule (1) of Rule 2 of the Temporary suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017.
Following this, a section of people of Tamil Nadu will experience the suspension of internet services for the first time, which they know of only through media reports coming from Kashmir. How far this move will affect traders, emergency services and the public will be known in the coming days. Even after the service providers were ordered to stop internet on Wednesday, the service continued to be available at least till 9 pm.
A communication sent by Home Secretary Niranjan Mardi to the nodal officers of internet service providers in the three districts said: A public emergency has arisen which necessitates immediate action and speedy remedy for the public tranquillity and it is felt necessary that services of internet should be stopped/curtailed to prevent spreading of such information rumours with half-truth.
The letter from the home secretary attributed the gathering of around 20,000 people on May 22 at Thoothukudi to the “information passed via social media.” The Home Secretary said such a large gathering was possible mainly through the information passed via social media.
Besides, provocative messages were spread in social media with half-truth and anti-social elements were trying to exploit the situation.
The secretary directed that “Any data related message or class of messages to or from any persons, or relating to any particular subject brought for transmission by or transmitted or received by any telegraph, shall temporarily not be transmitted in the interest of maintaining public order and preventing incitement to the commission of any offence passing through the internet services should be stopped for a period of five days from May 23 to May 27 throughout the districts of Thoothukudi, Tirunelveli and Kanniyakumari.”
Bus services suspended
Meanwhile, the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (TNSTC) buses temporarily stopped its operation from Madurai Corporation, which comprises Madurai, Theni, Dindigul and Virudhunagar districts. The Madurai Corporation operates 15 services from Madurai, 12 from Dindigul and six from Virudhunagar to Thoothukudi. The decision was taken in view of the volatile situation in the district and the promulgation of CrPc section 144.
Speaking to Express, TNSTC Madurai Divisional General Manager Raja Sundar said that as per the police instruction, TNSTC stopped the operation to Thoothukudi temporarily. The operation would be resumed once police show the green signal, he added.
Meanwhile, private taxi drivers made a killing, fleecing hapless commuters stranded in the wake of the clash. In the town, transport options were little as most vehicles stayed off the roads.