Guwahatians Consider Internet Suspension as a ‘blessing in disguise’
The ongoing protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) having engulfed the entire state, internet services had remained suspended since last week and were fully restored only on 20th December last. The internet services were initially suspended for 24 hours in ten districts of the state on 11th December but the suspension kept getting extended on a daily basis thereafter.
“Internet will be suspended as social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, and YouTube etc are likely to be used for spreading of rumours and also for transmission of information like pictures, videos, and texts that have the potential to inflame passions and does exacerbate the law and order situation," the official notification had stated.
The government claimed to have adopted this measure of internet blackout in the backdrop of threat to the state’s tranquillity and security, with neighbouring China supporting the move. The People’s Daily Online said in an article, “The internet shutdown in India has once again proved that the necessary regulation of the internet is a reasonable choice of sovereign countries based on national interests and a natural extension of national sovereignty in cyber-space.”
Major outrage was expressed on various social media platforms from across the country. Daily life was adversely affected causing hardships to cross-sections of people including the banking sector, transportation and the student community. Many flights and trains had to be cancelled and there was a complete halt in the app-based services.
However, a section of the population benefitted from this move as internet suspension had forced them to resort to other daily activities to keep themselves occupied.
G Plus asked the people of the city how the non availability of internet had altered their daily lives. While the initial response of the working class was that of anger and dissatisfaction, some indeed opened up about how this had turned to be a “blessing in disguise.”
Angshuman Das, a MBA student said, “I have now realised how addicted we have become to the internet. Initially it was complete boredom as we could not surf the social networking sites, watch movies or play video games. But I have taken more interest in current affairs as the only source of entertainment is the TV, and given the present scenario the best we could do was turn on the news channels.”
Another student Harsha Dewan, pursuing graduation said, “I must say I have never watched the news and read the newspaper so sincerely. I have caught up a lot on my Assamese vocabulary as the Assamese news channels are regularly being watched for updates on the protest.”
Many said that they caught up with their neighbours like the old days and played various games especially cricket, badminton reliving their childhood days. The streets of Guwahati were in fact seen to have been filled with many playing “galli-cricket.”
A homemaker from the city, Rimjim Borah, has indeed thanked the internet suspension as her daughter went out to play rather than remain coiled up on the bed with the smartphone. She further said, “Even I could make up time for myself to regain the old habit of reading books.”
Some youths of the city were also of the opinion that the suspension of the internet has in a way helped the protest as most of them earlier hadn’t taken much interest on the issue or would not have bothered to come out on the streets protesting against CAA.
Internet suspension for the last 9 days had altered the daily lives of Guwahatians in immense ways. While the working class saw loses and pending work load, the youth and the elderly enjoyed some time together even amidst the hardship of bandhs and curfew nights.