Half of the world’s known Internet shutdown have happened in India alone, mostly in Kashmir region, a study has shown.
According to a study at the Stanford University (Of Blackouts and Bandhs: The Strategy and Structure of Disconnected Protest in India), India has witnessed 134 network shutdowns in 2018 alone and more than 100 in 2016-17, reported News 18. “Most of these blackouts happened in the volatile Kashmir region,” it said.
The study found that approximately half of the world’s known network shutdowns have happened in India alone, mostly in Kashmir. “A cursory look at the trajectory of shutdowns in India shows that the northern border states have acted as ‘innovators’ and shutdown contagion has advanced south with time,” read the research, according to the report.
The longest Internet shutdown of 203 days was witnessed in Kashmir following the July 8 killing of militant commander Burhan Wani 2016 unrest in Kashmir gave the state its longest internet shutdown, which lasted for 203 days.
As per different estimates used in the study, the total duration of shutdowns in India between 2012 and 2017 remains 16, 315 hours (680 days), which has generated an economic loss of approximately $3.04 billion.
“Despite the prolific use of network shutdowns across the country,” the study points, “neither India nor any other national government has conducted publicly acknowledged studies on the effectiveness of shutdowns as a means of suppressing unrest”.
The majority of blackouts in the country occur in the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, and Jammu and Kashmir. J&K alone comprises about 47% of the total shutdowns.
“Of 36 states and union territories, these four regions account for more than 75% of all recorded shutdown events in India (2012-17), while Jammu and Kashmir alone comprises about 47%,” it reads.
The author of the study, Jan Rydzak, has found that a large proportion of these shutdowns are implemented with the explicit goals of ensuring or restoring public order, as against the known practice maintaining security “during peaceful mass events such as festivals and processions”. However, it finds that “in most instances, this has been tantamount to preventing or quashing protests, riots, or collective violence”.