Internet shutdowns become chronic

There was not a single month in 2017 when an internet shutdown was not in force in some part of the country.


India is becoming increasingly notorious for internet shutdowns.  As the table and calendar below will show, there was not a single month in 2017 when an internet shutdown was not in force  in some part of the country.   The year 2016 recorded 31 shutdowns.  For 2017 the figure was 77.


State-wise summary


Number of cases

Jammu & Kashmir








Uttar Pradesh




West Bengal






Andhra and Telangana




Madhya Pradesh




Punjab & Chandigarh





Equally, there were only three months in that year that the state of Jammu and Kashmir did not experience an internet shutdown somewhere in the state.  It has become a reflex action there for law and order enforcement, and journalists in particular were hit hard  by this basic withdrawal of communication facilities. 

As beleaguered reporters and cameramen pointed out, the  shutdowns did not affect the police or army or political parties as they had dedicated leased lines.

In May, two UN Special Rapporteurs voiced criticism of the Indian government’s decision to shut down specific social media apps in Kashmir, and of internet shutdowns in general, and asked for connectivity to be restored. Their statement had said that: “The scope of these restrictions has a  significantly disproportionate impact on the fundamental rights of everyone in Kashmir, undermining the Government’s stated aim of preventing dissemination of information that could lead to violence”.



Place and Date


Nagaland- Wokha and Phek districts, 19th January- 20th February

Nagaland, January 30th- 20th February

Haryana- Jhajjar 29th

Haryana- Rohtak, Bhiwani, Hisar, Sonipat, and Panipat, January 30th


Haryana- Jhajjar, Panipat, Sonipat, Hisar, Rohtak, Jind, and Bhiwani, February 17th- February 19th

Haryana-Rohtak, Bhiwani and Sonipat districts, 5PM February 25th - February 26th


Haryana- Rohtak, Bhiwani, Sonipat and Jhajjar districts, March 18th – March 19th

Rajasthan- Sikar district- March 31st – April 6th


Jammu & Kashmir- Srinagar, Budgam and Gandarbal districts, Kashmir Valley, April 8th - April 13th

Jammu & Kashmir- Budgam, April 13th

Jammu & Kashmir- Pulwama, April 17th- April 19th

Odisha-  April 9th – April 11th

Odisha- Kendrapara, April 19th – April 21st

Rajasthan- Udaipur and Fatehnagar- April 18th – April 19th


Jammu & Kashmir, May 27th – June 2nd

Uttar Pradesh, Saharanpur, May 24th -June 4th


Madhya Pradesh- Mandsaur, Ratlam and Neemuch districts, June 6th – June 11th

Jammu &Kashmir, June 7th

Jammu & Kashmir- Kashmir Valley, June 12th -June 19th

Jammu & Kashmir- Pulwama, June 22nd

West Bengal- Darjeeling, June 18th -till date

Uttar Pradesh - Saharanpur, June 8th -June 12th

Rajasthan - Nagaur district , June 30th –July 5th

Maharashtra- Nashik, June 5th for a few hours


Rajasthan- Nagaur, Churu, Sikar and Bikaner districts, July 11th – July 14th

Jammu & Kashmir- Anantnag, July 1st

Jammu & Kashmir- South Kashmir, July 2nd

Jammu & Kashmir- Kashmir Valley, July 6th - July 9th

Jammu & Kashmir- Across Kashmir Valley, July 10th- July 12th

Jammu & Kashmir- Morbi and Surendranagar districts, July 13th -July 19th

Jammu & Kashmir- Pulwama , July 16th

Jammu & Kashmir- Anantnag dist, July 18th

Jammu & Kashmir- Bijbehara town and adjacent areas, July 20th

Jammu & Kashmir- Budgam district, July 21st -July 25th

Jammu & Kashmir- Anantnag district, July 26th

Jammu & Kashmir- Pulwama, July 30th

West Bengal- Baduria and Bashirhat areas of North 24 Parganas district, July 5th -July 10th

Tripura, 20th July (14 hours)

Gujarat- Morbi and Surendranagar districts, July 18th to July 14th


Jammu & Kashmir- Pulwama district, August 1st –August 2nd

Jammu & Kashmir- Anantnag, Kulgam, Pulwama and Shopian districts, August 3rd

Jammu & Kashmir- Baramullah, August 5th

Jammu & Kashmir- Pulwama, August 9th

Jammu & Kashmir- Shopian and Kulgam district, August 13th

Jammu & Kashmir- Kashmir Valley, August 15th

Jammu & Kashmir- Pulwama district, August 16th

Jammu & Kashmir- South Kashmir, August 19th

Jammu & Kashmir- Pulwama district, August 26th

Punjab & Haryana- Areas around Panchkula, August 24th – August 29th

Rajasthan- Sriganganagar and Hanumangarh, August 25th- August 27th


Bihar- Madhepura, Supaul, Saharsa, Purnea, Araria, Kishanganj and Katihar,  September 5th

Bihar- Nawada district, September 28th – November 5th

Jammu & Kashmir- Shopian and Kulgam districts, September 2nd

Jammu & Kashmir- Sopore, September 4th

Jammu & Kashmir-Sopore town of Baramula district-September 9th

Jammu & Kashmir- Kulgam and Anantnag districts, September 11th

Jammu & Kashmir- Kupwara district, September 15th

Jammu & Kashmir- Jammu, September 20th

Rajasthan- Jaipur, September 9th

Rajasthan- Sikar district, September 11th

Rajasthan- Jaipur’s Ramganj area, September 15th - September 20th

Tripura, Agartala, September 21st – September 25th

Haryana- Sirsa district, September 8th- September 10th


Jammu & Kashmir- Across Kashmir, October 13th

Jammu & Kashmir- North Kashmir’s Bandipora district, October 25th

Bihar- Arwal, Jamui, Bhojpur, Katihar, Sitamarhi and West Champaran, October 1st- October 5th


Jammu & Kashmir- Pulwama district, November 2nd

Haryana- Jind, Hansi, Bhiwani, Hisar, Fatehabad, Karnal, Panipat, Kaithal, Rohtak, Sonipat, Jhajjar, Bhiwani and Charkhi Dadri, November 24th – November 27th


Rajasthan- Bhilwara, Chittorgarh and Nimbahera, December 3rd

Rajasthan- Udaipur and Rajsamand district, December 13th – December 14th

Rajasthan- Bundi district, 6am on December 31st to 6am on January 2nd , 2018

Jammu & Kashmir- Sopore, Baramulla, Handwara and Kupwara, December 11th

Jammu & Kashmir- Kulgam and Anantnag district, December 15th

Jammu & Kashmir- Shopian district, December 18th - December 26th

Jammu & Kashmir- Pulwama district, December 26th

Jammu & Kashmir- Pulwama district, December 31st

Andhra Pradesh and Telangana- Adilabad district of Telangana, December 16th


Most internet blocks in India are taking place under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code 1973, which gives the state government the power to stop unlawful assemblies of people to prevent public disorder, rioting and so on. They can be brought into force by a notification signed by the district magistrate or a commissioner of police in a metropolitan area. However, legal experts have been arguing against the constitutional validity of imposing internet shutdowns, especially under Section 144.  

One argument is that Section 144 does not even contain the appropriate legal power to order a suspension of Internet services, since the power to regulate telegraphs (or the internet in this case) is vested with the Union and not with the state. In that context, any internet shutdown should really take place under Section 5(2) of the Telegraph Act and Section 69A of the Information Technology Act.

Medianama reported that in August  2017 that the Ministry of Communications issued (and notified) rules for shutting of telecom services – and by extension, the shutting down of Internet services in India. The notification for the rules was issued under the Telegraph Act. These shutdowns are notified using Section 144 of the CrPC  which can be invoked by a district magistrate or the collector.

The new rules issued by the central government sought to  take the  power to impose shutdowns away from the district collector, and vest  it with a higher authority such as the state home secretary or the union home secretary.  The frequency of shutdowns however continued unabated after August, as the calendar (above) shows.


Reasons for shutdowns




 Jammu & Kashmir


Madhya Pradesh










Uttar Pradesh


West Bengal

Communal tensions triggered by an “objectionable” Facebook post



Data sourced  from the Hoot’s Free Speech Hub and the Software Freedom Law Centre’s Internet Shutdown Tracker.