Citizenship Act stir: Internet services restored in Assam after ten days

The internet services were suspended on December 11 after major protests had erupted across the state over the amended citizenship bill.

Published: 20th December 2019 10:14 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th December 2019 11:21 AM   |  A+A-

Assamese people take part in a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 in Shillong Monday Dec. 16 2019. (Photo | PTI)

Assamese people take part in a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 in Shillong Monday Dec. 16 2019. (Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

GUWAHATI: After nine days, the ban on mobile internet service in Assam was lifted on Friday morning.

The service was suspended in ten districts in the wake of violent protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).

Four PILs were earlier filed in the Gauhati High Court by an advocate, a senior journalist and others seeking the lifting of the ban. After hearing the PILs for two days, the court had passed an order on Thursday asking the state government to restore the service. The court, however, said it was open to the government taking steps to curb the dissemination of “explosive messages or videos” on the social media which could incite violence.

Internet broadband service was restored three days ago.

Though the Gauhati High Court had ordered its restoration by 5 pm on Thursday, the state government had not issued any instruction to the mobile operators to implement the court directive.

"We did not receive any further communication from the government to continue with the ban, so we resumed the service for our customers," a senior official of private operator Airtel told the media.

Other operators like state-owned BSNL, Reliance Jio and Vodafone too have resumed their services.

Meanwhile, the protests against CAA have continued. 

"The situation in the State has improved immensely. We thank the people of Assam for following the spirit of the law. Day curfew has been withdrawn in Guwahati from 0600hrs of December 16. Night curfew would remain from 2100 hrs till 0600 hrs next day," Assam Police tweeted.

Broadband services have already resumed in the state from December 17.

Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had said on Thursday evening that mobile internet service would resume from Friday.

Earlier during the day, the Gauhati High Court had directed the Assam government to restore mobile internet service by 5 pm on Thursday.

A division bench of Justices Manojit Bhuyan and Saumitra Saikia gave the direction after hearing four PILs filed by journalist Ajit Kumar Bhuyan and advocates Bonoshri Gogoi, Randeep Sharma and Debakanta Doley.

ALSO READ | ‘Worried’ Assam BJP MLAs meet CM, urge him to allay public's fear of Citizenship law

With the resumption of mobile internet, hundreds of WhatsApp messages and social media notifications clogged the cell phones of users.

"With messages flooding my phone, it hanged several times. I had to restart it many times," an avid user of social media platforms on the mobile phone said.

Assam witnessed one of the worst violent protests in its history with three rail stations, post office, bank, bus terminus, shops, dozens of vehicles and many other public properties being set ablaze or totally damaged.

Already five persons lost their lives in the violence that broke out in the state last week.

After the Rajya Sabha passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill last week, the state erupted in uncontrolled protests, in which agitators engaged in pitch battle in almost every major city or town, forcing the administration to impose a curfew.

Several towns and cities were placed under indefinite curfew, including Guwahati, the epicentre of protests, besides Dibrugarh, Tezpur and Dhekiajuli.

Night curfew was imposed in Jorhat, Golaghat, Tinsukia and Charaideo districts.

With the situation returning to normalcy, curfew has been lifted from several cities and relaxed in the rest.

(With PTI Inputs)


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