The Assam government has announced that internet services in 10 districts of Assam will be blocked for 24 hours, beginning 7:00 pm on Wednesday. The decision came on the back of violent protests against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Bill that seeks to .
The state authorities said that the internet blackout is meant to prevent misuse of social media in disturbing peace and tranquillity, and to maintain law and order. Guwahati, the biggest city in Assam, is already under indefinite curfew.
Internet services will be suspended in Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Charaideo, Sivasagar, Jorhat, Golaghat, Kamrup (Metro) and Kamrup, according to a notification issued by Additional Chief Secretary (Home and Political Department) Kumar Sanjay Krishna.
Internet will be suspended as "social media platforms like Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter and You Tube etc are likely to be used for spreading of rumours and also for transmission of information like pictures, videos and texts that have the potential to inflame passions and does exacerbate the law and order situation", the notification said.
During the day, tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets to decry the Citizenship Amendment Bill. Though no party or student body has called a shutdown, protesters, a majority of them students, fought pitched battles with security forces in the restive state, including in front of the secretariat, the seat of the BJP government. Police fired tear gas shells and baton-charged protesters, who fought back.
Assam smouldered with protests rocking several parts of the state on the day the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is being hotly debated in the Rajya Sabha after its passage by the Lok Sabha.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, which has already been approved by Lok Sabha, proposes to give citizenship to Hindus, Christians, Parsis, Jains, Budhists and Sikhs facing religion persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
(With PTI inputs)