Authorities in the Indian state of Gujarat have reportedly shut down mobile Internet service for the 63 million area residents in light of political protests in the region.
The apparent cause of the protests, as reported by TNW News, is the detention of community leader Hardik Patel, who has led a movement for extending so-called Other Backward Class status for Patidar residents who want equal access to university enrollment and government jobs.
One seeming target of the mobile Internet kill is messenger applications like WhatsApp, the platform Patel used to communicate with supporters following his arrest.
From that message: “I make an appeal to maintain peace and keep calm,” in light of “widespread violence in the state.”
Patel has also reportedly used WhatsApp to broadcast videos and engage with the media.
NDTV reports the police justified the network shutdown because communications “could exacerbate tension.”
The media outlet spoke with a police officer who said, “Last night, there were concerns of rumor-mongering and crowd mobilization through WhatsApp.”
India.com reported that mobile Internet was still cut off on Thursday for the second consecutive day; additionally, schools and colleges are closed until Monday “in light of the deteriorating law and order situation in the state,” according to the website.
The outlet reported that the Internet ban “is applicable in some parts of the state, on all the users of mobile Internet seeks to cripple the movement since the community supporters had been using WhatsApp extensively to garner support for the movement.”