Farmers’ protest: Internet jammers installed at Singhu border – what we know so far?

A video suggesting that jammers were set up at the Singhu border protest site has been doing rounds on the internet since Sunday. Protesters in the video alleged that the motive behind this was to keep the rest of the nation unaware of the developments of the farmers’ agitation.

Protesters also alleged that mobile phones lost connectivity and that it’s been difficult to use the internet for even simple things like going live on social media or for uploading/downloading files. A vehicle installed for the purpose is visible in the video.

The video was shared on Twitter by user @PriaINC on December 6 at 3:24 PM and looks like it has been taken from the now banned video-sharing app, Tiktok. The user accused the government of “harassing its own people.”

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The video has been shared multiple times ever since and managed to kick off a rumour mill of speculations. Several users suggested that this could be part of a larger ploy by the government to disturb the peace at the protest site. One user who goes by the username @PVasanthibai speculated that the government might do something unthinkable.

Several users started suggesting methods to access the internet by bypassing the jammer with the help of different apps like Firechat.

There hasn’t been any official information on the matter as of now. Amaan Bali, a freelancer covering the protests on ground, shared that although jammers have been installed, lowering internet speeds is a common method deployed to counter bandh calls. He also called for people to stop spreading conspiracy theories as it could lead to fear-mongering.

He said, “The purpose of jammers is simple. The nationwide bandh call and its messages are countered by slowing the internet. We can make posts. Use WhatsApp. But downloading and uploading videos is hindered. (sic)”

However, this isn’t the first time something of this sort has happened. The current government is notorious for using internet bans to suppress dissent. From the long-standing Kashmir internet ban to the frequent internet shutdowns during anti- CAA protests, it has become all too common for the government to use the internet ban as a tool to curb the voices that dare to oppose. According to Internetshudown.in, a portal that tracks India’s internet bans, the internet was shut down 95 times in India in 2019. So the fear surrounding jammers installed at the Singhu border is legitimate but it is advised to refrain from spreading conspiracy theories without any confirmation from official sources.

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