India has suspended mobile Internet in Aligarh, a city in the Uttar Pradesh state, for at least six hours, according to NDTV, after violent clashes broke out between authorities and activists protesting a controversial citizenship law.
According to the publication, violence erupted when police clashed with people protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA), in Aligarh’s Uparkot Kotwali neighbourhood, leading to stone-pelting, a shop being set ablaze, and a police officer’s bike burnt to the ground.
Authorities, however, responded with baton-charging and relentlessly firing tear gas at the demonstrators.
Police maintained that it was the protesters who had initiated the aggressive behaviour, the publication reported. It added that the city’s district magistrate, Chandra Bhushan Singh, said violence was brought under control and the mob dispersed.
“We have held peace meetings and asked Muslim community leaders, including the Imam of the Jama Masjid, to act as interlocutors,” NDTV quoted Singh as saying.
Uttar Pradesh Police consequently deployed its Rapid Action Force (RAF), while Aligarh Police said they were registering a case over the incident and identifying suspects “with the help of CCTV footage”.
People slammed the authorities’ move to ban Internet, terming the country as “fascist India” and saying communication blackouts were the “favourite weapon of authoritarian regimes (in Indian states) in 21st century India to effect mass repression in the name of maintenance of law and order”.
A young activist, Anish Gawande, said on Twitter: “Digital India is a joke.”
“We account for the highest number of internet shutdowns in the world. In these blackouts, the state uses its power to inflict the worst abuses on our own people,” Gawande added.
A day prior, women participants of a protest in the Delhi Gate area that has been going on for more than three weeks had approached police for permission to set up tents. Upon denial of their request, they staged a sit-in outside the police station, following which security officials tried to forcibly remove the women earlier today.