Vodafone to suspend services in protest-hit parts of India

Government tells Vodafone to suspend services in protest-hit parts of India
3 min read
19 December, 2019
Civil rights groups, students and professionals, as well as general citizens are using social media to mobilise and coordinate protests - whilst urging everyone to do so peacefully.
Phone services have been suspended in India and widespread protests are expected in the country even though authorities have imposed an emergency law banning large gatherings in the capital city New Delhi, following violent clashes with protesters and police.

The ban has been imposed in parts of Delhi, as well as the states of Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka, all Muslim strongholds.

Indian police have detained hundreds of people who defied the ban, and mobile data services were suspended in the capital to close protest sites.

This hasn't stopped protesters from spilling into the streets to oppose the controversial new citizenship law, which has been accused of being discriminatory towards Muslims.

On Thursday telecoms company Vodafone India tweeted that its services were suspended in parts of New Delhi "as per the directive received from the government".

The tweet was in response to a customer services question about phone services in the region.

Protests are set to go ahead in 15 cities across the country today, increasing the possibility of violence and arrests.

Civil rights groups, students and professionals, as well as general citizens are using social media to mobilise and coordinate protests - whilst urging everyone to do so peacefully.

Marches are planned in the capital city, as well as Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Chennai.

Six people died in the northeast and up to 200 were injured in Delhi, including 12 police officers in protests.

Police are doing all that they can to curb the protests, including setting up barricades on a major highway connection Delhi and the city of Jaipur. Vehicles are being checked, which has led to heavy traffic disruptions in the region.

A number of metro stations have been closed in areas near to planned marches, with Delhi Metro Rail Corporation stating, "sudden safety and security reasons".

The controversial law has been called anti-Muslim as it fast-tracks citizenship for non-Muslims from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

Experts argue the move is an attempt from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to push a Hindu nationalist agenda to marginalize the 200-million strong Muslim minority - a claim Modi denies.

On Wednesday police detained 70 people in the southern city of Bengaluru following a refusal from protesters to disperse.

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) has been the cause of much controversy, with the federal government claiming the law will protect people from persecution.

The UN human rights office last week said it was concerned the law "would appear to undermine the commitment to equality before the law enshrined in India's constitution".

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