In what continues to highlight the growing need for regulation over Government authority for ‘limitless’ internet shutdown, a new investigative study from Top10VPN pegs the financial loss India’s economy suffered due to internet shutdowns, to a whopping ₹9,440 crores (~$1.3 Billion). According to the report, India was among the worst performers, with the country only better than Iraq and Sudan in terms of financial loss. Iran and Sudan suffered $2.8Bn and $1.8Bn respectively.
In terms of number of users affected, the country saw over 8.4 Million users experiencing internet loss. These figures, according to Simon Migliano, head of research at U.K.-based Top10VPN, are ‘conservative’ in nature. The figures do not account for smaller hourly shut downs that India continues to witness at a massive scale, in small cities and Tier2/3 districts.
The figures hold importance even as India’s Supreme court lashed out at the Government for ‘limitless’ internet shutdowns, specially in the Jammu and Kashmir region. The sensitive J&K region has been under internet blackout for over 4 months now, with the Supreme court now directing the central government to review and revoke the same in a week’s time.
In fact, the figures are only from the internet shut downs that happened in the Indian states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Jammu and Kashmir, Meghalaya, Rajasthan, Tripura and Uttar Pradesh. Of these, Assam and Jammu & Kashmir in particular saw the most shutdowns as the states witnessed most violence due to the controversial citizenship amendment act (CAA) and revocation of Article 370 respectively.
In Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, internet shutdown was largely seen during Indian Supreme Court’s landmark judgement on the decades old Ayodhya land dispute. In the verdict, the court pronounced that the land be alloted to the Hindus, with Muslims given a separate piece of land nearby to rebuild their mosque. The decision, despite coming from the Apex court, remains questionable by many.
There were further disruptions in December when protests erupted against the introduction of the Citizenship Amendment act that allows undocumented migrants of all persecuted minorities from neighboring countries to seek Indian citizenship. The government enforced shutdowns across Uttar Pradesh and some north eastern states in order to quell the protests, the report said.