Anti-CAA stir: Mobile services down for hours in Delhi

Police gather near the historic Red Fort at a demonstration against India’s new citizenship law in New Delhi on December 19, 2019. - Big rallies are expected across India on December 19 as the tumultuous and angry reaction builds against a citizenship law seen as discriminatory against Muslims. (AFP Photo)

Mobile internet and messaging services were suspended for hours in certain parts of the national capital on Thursday, at least 18 metro stations were closed for the whole day and massive traffic jams reported in many parts, as the city witnessed protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

Following the order from the Delhi Police, telecom companies - Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio, and MTNL - shut down their services from 9 am to till 1 pm.

It was the first time that mobile services were shut down in Delhi and the outage triggered a rage among Netizens, with some even comparing the crackdown to the Emergency. Mobile services were suspended in areas where protest was taking palaces, including walled city areas of North and Central districts, Mandi House, Seelampur, Jaffarbad, Mustafabad, Jamia Nagar, Shaeen Bagh and Bawana.

Though the police directed the telecom services to shut voice call, telecom firms said voice calling was largely unaffected and only internet services were affected.

Bharti Airtel Chairman Sunil Mittal said the company had complied with a government directive in this regard.

"There is a government order and we are just following it," Mittal said while speaking to reporters after a pre-Budget meeting with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman here.

To prevent coming students to protesting areas, at least 18 metro stations were closed by Delhi Metro and entry and exit of passengers were not allowed from 10 am to till evening.

The city also witnessed massive traffic jams in several places due to protests which led to several people missing flights and trains.

People also tweeted images of jams at the Delhi-Gurgaon border, as traffic moved at snail pace amid all the protests.

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