Millennium Post

Clamping rights

As nation-wide demonstrations against the newly legislated citizenship law by the Central government gain momentum, the state of Uttar Pradesh in particular has one of maximum reported action. With the internet suspended in 21 districts across the over Citizenship Amendment Act, 879 people have been arrested in connection with the violence while 5,000 have been reportedly detained. In a situation very similar to Kashmir, suspending internet as a preventive measure in the light of possible protests against the Citizenship law, the questions that come to the fore are those pertaining to the rights of a common individual: the right to freedom to express dissent. A common and simplest way of quelling protests in these present times is to clamp the means by which protests emerge and take shape. The Internet black out is aimed to prevent the dissemination of information through social media in event of any trouble, hence, in attempting to contain the situation, the rights of common people end up being greatly compromised. A more visible and direct impact of this has been the hit banking services took at this time with hampered movement of cash and branch operations, bringing transactional services to a halt. Merchants found it hard to conduct business. Given the place internet has acquired in the lives of people, right from public safety to groceries to assistance in education, handy access to internet have led to the kind of development in a common man's life that have facilitated a whole new level of basics. The right to Internet access, also known as freedom to connect, is the view that all people must be able to access the Internet in order to exercise and enjoy their rights to freedom of expression and opinion and other fundamental human rights; and certainly, it comes as a responsibility of the state to ensure that Internet access is broadly available.

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