The continuing ban on mobile-based Internet services in Ahmedabad — imposed last week following the unrest triggered by a rally of the Patel community demanding OBC status and quota — has upset citizens who feel the crackdown is “illogical.”
On Monday, the State authorities lifted the ban across the State but not in Ahmedabad and Surat, the two largest cities with more than one crore population and also the economic and business hub of the State. The police fear that “some miscreants could circulate video clips of clashes between the police and the residents and foment trouble.”
“The services will remain suspended for two more days in Ahmedabad and Surat,” a police official said on Monday.
The online curfew has been frustrating for businessmen, students and other citizens. “It’s pathetic that the government, which claimed that normality has returned to Gujarat, continues the Internet blockage on mobiles,” said a 35-year-old businessman in Navarangpura area of Ahmedabad.
“No WhatsApp, no facebook, no SMS or MMS and no twitter. Everything is shut by the police. I just can’t believe that it’s happening in a State like Gujarat,” said Neha Shah, a student from Gujarat University.
Businesses, banks hit The week-long blockage has affected online businesses and banking transactions, which are increasingly being done through smartphones.
“It’s been very difficult. We have taken a huge hit in online transactions,” said an executive of a private bank. “The government is not realising the damage the Internet blockage is doing to the businesses. Mobile internet is now basic to all your businesses, trading and other activities. Booking tickets online, use of credit cards and online shopping have halted without Internet,” a mobile company executive told The Hindu , disclosing that “the mobile services providers have lost around Rs. 25 crore in revenue due to the blockage.”
The Gujarat government had suspended Internet services on August 25 midnight after violence broke out when the police briefly arrested Hardik Patel, the 22-year-old leader of the Patel agitation.
During the two-day unrest, 10 people were killed, including one police constable, while several hundred public transport buses were torched and public properties vandalised.
Hardik for reverse Dandi march
The Patel Anamat Andolan Samiti leader, Hardik Patel, on Tuesday announced that a reverse Dandi march — from Dandi to Ahmedabad — would be organised to press their demand for OBC quota in government jobs and education.
“With Dandi March from Dandi to Ahmedabad, we will sustain the agitation,” the 22-year-old said in Surat where he visited several areas that witnessed violence during the two-day unrest last week.
“We will ask the MLAs belonging to the Patel community to clear their stand on the issue of reservation for the community,” Hardik told media persons.
The reverse march would be called Patidar Anamat Kooch (Patidar Reservation March).