India Cuts internet And SMS Features To Millions Of People In Punjab Manhunt

While authorities look for a radical Sikh preacher, India has cut off internet and SMS connectivity to the whole state of Punjab, affecting more than 30 million people. The Guardian says that the Saturday-implemented lockdown, which paralyzed businesses, colleges, and digital payments, was intended to conclude on Monday but was instead extended for at least 24 hours.

The internet has been shut down, according to the authorities, to prevent the propagation of "false news" during the search for Amritpal Singh. The 30-year-old is a prominent member of the separatist Khalistan movement, which aims to give Sikhs their own nation.

According to the advocacy group Access Now, India significantly more frequently than any other government blocks citizens' access to the internet, as reported in the Washington Post. According to Prasanth Sugathan of the Software Freedom Law Center, a New Delhi-based NGO, it's unusual for an area as vast as Punjab to lose access outside of the unstable Jammu and Kashmir region, which had internet blackout for 19 months following turmoil in 2019.

Shutting down throughout the state is undoubtedly out of scale, according to Sugathan. "Nowadays, practically everything requires the internet. The impact on the populace if you shut down the entire state will be unthinkable."

Singh's supporters were using the internet to coordinate themselves and look for assistance prior to the Saturday closure. In places all over the world, including San Francisco, where Sikh demonstrators clashed with consular staff and broke glass at the embassy, the quest for Singh has triggered demonstrations against Indian embassies and consulates.

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