For a fifth consecutive year, India is the world’s largest offender, out of all democracies, in enforcing deliberate internet shutdowns. The report by Access Now and the KeepItOn coalition reveals that India implemented at least 84 shutdowns in 2022. At least, 187 internet shutdowns across 35 countries were recorded in 2022. Senior international counsel and Asia Pacific policy director at Access Now, Raman Jit Singh Chima said, “That’s 84 attacks on fundamental rights across the world’s biggest democracy.” The report said that in 2022, the Internet was shut down 49 times in IIOJK. This included a string of 16 back-to-back orders for three-day-long shutdowns in January & February 2022 in the territory. It said, authorities in Rajasthan imposed shutdowns on 12 different occasions followed by West Bengal, which ordered shutdowns seven times. As per the report, titled ‘Weapons of control, shields of impunity: Internet shutdowns in 2022’, since 2016, India has accounted for approximately 58 percent of all documented shutdowns globally.
Indian authorities disrupted internet access at least 49 times in IIOJK, including 16 back-to-back orders for three-day-long curfew-style shutdowns in January and February. There are reports of the Indian government’s throttling or suspension of internet services in regions struck by protests. Internet shutdowns were used during the Agneepath protests, the farmer’s protest, etc. The report states that authorities used shutdowns to try to hide serious rights violations and sever communications between individuals and communities, which also impacted human rights monitoring, including shutdown tracking and provision of humanitarian aid. Since PM Modi scrapped Article 370 and 35-A, the region has witnessed an unprecedented crackdown on residents and the imposition of laws and policies which critics say are aimed at marginalizing and oppressing the country’s only Muslim-majority region. Srinivas Kodali, digital rights activist and researcher with the Free Software Movement of India, “It is a form of repression. The government is telling people that unless you toe the line, you will not be allowed to be part of a normal world”.