Assam: Messages flood phones as internet resumes after 10 days
In Assam, mobile internet services were restored on Friday after a ten-day blackout following violent agitation across the state over the Citizenship Amendment Act. Reportedly, Airtel, Vodafone, Reliance Jio and the state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) have resumed services. The development comes a day after the Gauhati High Court ordered the restoration of mobile internet services by Thursday. Here are more details.
Didn't receive notification to continue ban, resumed service: Airtel official
A senior official of privately operated Airtel told PTI, "We did not receive any further communication from the government to continue with the ban, so we resumed the service for our customers." With mobile internet services resumed, social media notifications and messages flooded in. A local told PTI, "With messages flooding my phone, it hanged several times. I had to restart it many times."
As the services resumed, Assam CM addressed citizens
Earlier today, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal addressed a press conference saying, "I want to assure Indian Muslims and people living here that no one can steal the rights of sons of the soil of Assam, there is no threat to our language or our identity." He urged people to disregard rumors on the amended Citizenship Act, adding that Assam will "move forward with peace."
I respect every individual who is protesting: Sonowal
"Assam will always remain for Assamese," said Sonowal, adding, "The people protesting in the state over the Citizenship Amendment Act have different opinions over it. I believe in the republic and respect every individual who is protesting."
Interestingly, HC had ordered resumption of services by 5pm yesterday
On Thursday, the Gauhati High Court ordered the BJP-led Assam government to resume mobile internet services. A division bench of Justices Manojit Bhuyan and Saumitra Saikia was hearing four petitions filed by journalist Ajit Kumar Bhuyan and advocates Bonoshri Gogoi, Randeep Sharma, and Debakanta Doley. The court ordered the resumption of services by Thursday 5 pm, however, internet services remained blocked throughout the day.
Mobile, broadband internet were suspended on December 11
Mobile and broadband internet was suspended in select districts of Assam in the evening on December 11 after the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) was passed in the Rajya Sabha, intensifying protests. The Bill received Presidential assent the next day and was made an Act (CAA). Thereafter, as protests continued, killing five people, the curbs were extended throughout Assam. Broadband internet resumed on December 17.
Why is Assam protesting against Citizenship Act?
Assam has vehemently protested CAA as it makes provisions for illegal Bangladeshi immigrants to be accorded Indian citizenship, thereby disrupting the sensitive demographics of the state. Critics argue the amended citizenship law also violates the 1985 Assam Accord, which shielded the state from illegal immigration. The legislation fueled intense protests this past week where railway stations, post offices, banks, etc., were set ablaze.