As Thoothukudi simmers, TN asks internet providers to cut data services in 3 districts

Internet services will be suspended in Thoothukudi, Thirunalveli and Kanyakumari districts from May 23-27.

In the wake of the protests on-going in Thoothukudi, telecom players have received a directive from the Chief Secretary to bar data services in three districts of Tamil Nadu – Thoothukudi, Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari districts. However, voice calls have not been barred. Data services will be barred from Tuesday evening (May 23) until May 27.

The News Minute has confirmed from sources in at least two telecom companies that they have received a directive from the Director General of Police of Tamil Nadu to temporarily suspend internet services.

The directive issued by the Chief Secretary states that it has been brought to the notice the government that some people died in police action during the protest against Sterlite factory at Thoothukudi on May 22, which saw 20,000 people assemble and involve in violence and that this mass gathering of people was achieved mainly through the information passed via social media.

It further states that provocative messages spread in social media with ‘half truth’ and anti-social elements are trying to exploit the situation, leading to a public emergency situation, which necessitates immediate action and for public tranquillity. “…and it felt necessary that services of internet should be stopped/curtailed to prevent spreading of such information, rumours with half truth,” it states.

This directive has been passed under the sub-rule (1) of the Rule 2 of the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017.

The directive orders telecom players to temporarily suspend ‘any data related message or class of message to or from any person or class of persons or relating to any particular subject brought for transmission by or transmitted or received by any telegraph within the ambit of the Indian telegraph act 1885 and newly formed rule Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017, shall temporarily not be transmitted in the interest of maintaining public order and preventing incitement to the commission or any offense passing through the internet’.

Since Wednesday morning, the police had asked the public to remain indoors to avoid any untoward incident.

The situation in Thoothukudi remains tense, with prohibitory orders under Section 144 clamped down in the town.

In a related development, the Madras High Court on Wednesday stayed the construction work at Vedanta Ltd’s second copper smelter plant at Thoothukudi.

The company had planned to double its smelting capacity to 800,000 tonnes per annum at the Sterlite copper smelter plant.

The court ordered the company to stop construction and other related activities concerning the second copper smelter plant till a decision was taken by the Environment Ministry.

The court also directed the Centre to hold a public hearing within four months before granting environment clearance to the plant.

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