- Internet snapped in parts of Delhi amid protests
- Large number of Delhi Police personnel outside Red Fort
- Entry and exit gates at 18 Delhi Metro stations shut
Internet was suspended in parts of Delhi today amid protests against the citizenship law on orders that the police said "should be treated as an absolute direction". An order of the Delhi Police Special Cell said voice, SMS and internet was to be halted because of the law and order situation. The communication services were restored around 2:28 pm, news agency Press Trust of India reported quoting Airtel sources.
"In view of the prevailing law and order situation, it is directed that communication of all types, voice, SMS and internet, be halted from 9 am to 1 pm," said the police notice, listing the Walled City, Mandi House, Seelampur, Jaffarbad and Mustafabad, Jamia Nagar and Bawana. "This should be treated as an absolute direction and compliance should be reported," said the letter addressed to service providers last evening.
Airtel's customer care department confirmed in now-deleted tweets that the company had acted "as per instructions from government authorities" to suspend internet, voice and SMS services in "many parts" of Delhi. But the tweets were soon deleted. Vodafone also said its services would not be available for some time.
Internet was shut at ITO, one of the busiest parts of the capital featuring media offices, and northeast Delhi, where violence had erupted in the last few days in Seelampur and Brijpuri.
"...as per instructions from government authorities, Voice, internet and SMS services are currently suspended in your location. Once the suspension orders are lifted, our services will be fully up and running. We're sorry about the inconvenience. Thanks for your support!" - this post was received by Danish Khan, who had tweeted to Airtel from northeast Delhi.
Subscribers who complained about call drops and the internet not working in central Delhi also received a similar response. "We're complying with instructions received from government authorities on suspending Voice, SMS and data in certain areas in Delhi," Airtel confirmed to NDTV.
Delhi Police Special Cell had directed on 18Dec that voice, SMS,internet services be halted from 9am to 1pm today,in walled city areas of north¢ral districts,Mandi House,Seelampur,Jafrabad,Mustafabad, Jamia Nagar, Shaeen Bagh&Bawana, in view of prevailing law&order situation pic.twitter.com/Qk2sk0TKI1— ANI (@ANI) December 19, 2019
Hi! As per the directive received from the Government, Services are stopped at few locations (Jamia, Saheen bagh, Bawana, Seelampur, Jaffrabad, Mandi House and part of Walled city). As a result of this you will not be able to use services till 1pm at these locations - Heena— Vodafone (@VodafoneIN) December 19, 2019
Vodafone tweeted to its customers: "Hi! As per the directive received from the government, services are stopped at few locations (Jamia, Saheen bagh, Bawana, Seelampur, Jaffrabad, Mandi House and part of Walled city). As a result of this you will not be able to use services till 1pm at these locations."
As the move was flagged on social media, many compared it to the severe restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir since special status was scrapped in August, and even the Emergency of 1975, when severe restrictions were imposed by the Indira Gandhi government and critics were jailed.
Protesters were detained from near the Red Fort monument in the old quarters of Delhi. Activist and Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav said he had been detained along with a thousand protesters and "thousands are on the way".
Protesters were also detained at Mandi House, another popular Delhi location replete with theatres. Eighteen metro stations were shut in Delhi.
Police across the country moved in to control protesters as large gatherings were banned in many cities to preempt any trouble.
At the core of the protests is the new citizenship law that allows non-Muslims from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan to easily become Indian citizens. The exclusion of Muslims, say political parties and activists, is discriminatory and violates the principles of equality and secularism in the constitution.