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Mar 21, 2023

Punjab: Internet Shutdown Extended Till Tuesday, Many Social Media Accounts 'Withheld'

As per the new orders, internet in the state will be suspended until Tuesday, March 21, noon in the wake of the developing situation in Punjab.
Source: Franck/Unsplash

New Delhi: An internet shutdown in Punjab, ordered by the state government on Saturday, has been extended multiple times from its initial 24-hour run on Saturday and will remain until noon Tuesday, as of now, reports Forbes.

Social media accounts of Khalistan supporters were suspended, as per ANI. Several social media accounts of journalists in Punjab, including at least three prominent journalists, those of Kamaldeep Singh Brar, a senior staffer with the Indian Express in Amritsar, and independent journalists Gagandeep Singh and Sandeep Singh, were also suspended.

The Twitter handle of the news website Baaz News has also been withheld. While there was no word on exactly how many, media reports said as many as 75 may have been suspended. Accounts of poet Rupi Kaur and the voluntary organisation United Sikhs have also been withheld.

The account of Sangrur MP, Simranjit Mann has been withheld by Twitter. The withholding of Mann’s account is significant given that action against a member of Parliament is rare. The account of Canadian lawmaker, Jagmeet Singh, the leader of the New Democratic Party, has also been withheld and is not available for viewing in India.

All this is connected to their purported remarks made in the context of the situation in Punjab, given the chase for the radical and controversial Sikh preacher, the head of Waris Punjab De, Amritpal Singh, who is said to be on the run.

The bid to shut down the internet has been criticised, with Nikhil Pahwa, the founder of Medianama, telling Forbes: “An internet shutdown essentially is a suspension of the fundamental rights of citizens…It’s really worrying how governments don’t take this seriously.”

India is the internet shutdown capital of the world, and Washington Post writes that the shutdown for “27 million people” makes the internet ban in Punjab “one of the country’s broadest shutdowns in recent years”.

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