Mobile telecom services cut off in parts of Delhi

Responding to customers on Twitter, service providers Airtel and Vodafone confirmed that they have received instructions from the government to suspend voice and data connection in certain parts of Delhi

December 19, 2019 01:16 pm | Updated December 20, 2019 12:11 pm IST

Photo for representation.

Photo for representation.

In the wake of protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, mobile services — including voice and Internet, were suspended for the first time in parts of Delhi on Thursday by telecom service providers, citing a government directive.

The shutdown took the total number of Internet stoppage in the country this year to 94. This is also the seventh instance of blocking of data services in the past 10 days as a response to anticipated protests against the new Citizenship Act, according to data

A spokesperson from said this is the first time that such a shutdown of Internet services was seen in the national capital.

While the three private telecom operators — Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio, declined to comment on the issue, customer service representatives of Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea in separate tweets to their users said that voice, Internet and SMS service were suspended in some parts of Delhi, including Jamia Nagar, Seelampur, Mandi House and some areas of Walled city. However, the tweets were later deleted.

“ per instructions from govt. 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…,” said the tweet by an executive of Bharti Airtel.

Similarly, Vodafone Idea executive in a response to a tweet asking whether it has suspended service across Delhi, said, “As per the directive received from the government services are stopped at a 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 1 pm at these locations.”

The order to all telecom service providers, including the two state-owned firms BSNL and MTNL, was issued by the office of the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Special Cell, New Delhi.

“In view of the prevailing law and order situation, it is hereby directed that communication of all types i.e. voice, SMS and internet, be halted from 0900 hours to 1300 hours in Cell IDs/BTS (base transceiver stations) covering the following areas for 19-12-2019,” the order dated December 18, 2019, said.

“This should be treated as an absolute direction and compliance should be reported,” it added.

Prior to Delhi, authorities in India have resorted to Internet shutdown in some areas of West Bengal (On December 15), Uttar Pradesh (on December 15 and December 13), Meghalaya (on December 12), Assam (December 11) and Tripura (December 10), due to protests against the CAA. In most areas the shutdown has been for less that 48 hours, except for Assam where the shutdown has been for over 144 hours, as per

The longest Internet shutdown in India, however, is the ongoing suspension in Kashmir, where it was imposed on August 4 2019, following the Union government’s decision to withdraw the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 and divide the State into two Union Territories.

Reacting to the shutting down of mobile services in Delhi, Mishi Choudhary, technology lawyer and Managing Partner at Mishi Choudhary and Associates, said, “It’s really concerning that the capital city of the largest democracy in the world has shut the Internet down and cut off its citizens from communicating. This is unprecedented and could have an irreversible and detrimental impact on India’s aspiration to become a Digital Leader.”

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