Tripura govt blocks internet services for 48 hours amid Citizenship Bill protests

Demonstrators raised slogans against the central government and demanded to keep the state out of the purview of the Bill.

Agartala: Internet services have been suspended in Tripura for 48 hours from 2 pm on Tuesday in view of the ongoing protests against the Citizenship Amendment Bill, an official notification said.

"The services were stopped after state police found certain elements trying to incite violence through rumours circulated on social media," news agency ANI quoted a government official as saying.

The order also prohibits SMS messages of all mobile service providers. The step has been taken to prevent mischief mongers from spreading rumours.

The state Home department's notification has been signed by A K Bhattacharya, Additional Secretary, Government of Tripura.

"This prohibition shall be applicable to press messages also. Violation of this promulgation will be punishable under Section 188 IPC and also under the relevant provisions of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 and the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017," the notification said.

The notification issued under provisions of Section 5 (2) of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 prohibits the following types of media for the next 48 hours beginning 1400 hours on 10th December 2019 in the entire state of Tripura (i) SMS messages of all mobile service providers (ii) Mobile Internet/Data Service of all mobile service providers, the order said.

The order said "it has been reported by the Director General of Police, Tripura that rumours are being mongered about ethnic clashes between tribal and non-tribals in Manu and Kanchanpur areas. This has created a violent situation in the entire area.

"It has been noticed that SMS, WhatsApp and social media platforms being widely used for transmission of fake images which have potential to incite violence in the state at a large rate.

"Whereas such aforesaid incidents have generated serious law and order situation prevailing in the entire state having potential threat to public safety. Therefore in order to prevent the misuse of the above mentioned media to disturn the peace and tranquility of the entire state and for maintaining the law and order situation, the Additional Secretary is directed to promulgate the notification," it said.

Like other Northeastern states, Tripura also witnessed protests over CAB during the day.

Scores of people including women in Agartala city on Tuesday launched a large scale protest against the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which was passed in Lok Sabha.

Demonstrators raised slogans against the central government and demanded to keep the state out of the purview of the Bill.

Speaking to ANI, one of the protestors said, "We do not want this Bill to be implemented here. It is against our right."

Another agitated protestor said, "We are already in the minority and now we do not want people from other countries to settle down here."

The protesters were heard sloganeering against the Bill and were also seen holding placards with the slogans 'Tripura should be kept out of the purview' and 'We are against CAB 2109' to send out a message to the Centre that they are against it.

The Bill, which seeks to give citizenship to refugees from the Hindu, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist and Zorastrian communities fleeing religious persecution from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh was passed in Lok Sabha on Monday.

Lok Sabha passed the Citizenship Bill with a majority of 311 votes against 80 votes in the Lower House where 391 members were present and voted.

The cut-off date for getting citizenship under the bill is December 31, 2014. In the Rajya Sabha, the Modi government requires the support of at least 123 MPs in the 245-member House to pass the bill.

(With inputs from agencies)

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