Mobile Internet Was Banned During Patel Agitation to Stop Rumours: Gujarat Govt

Mobile Internet Was Banned During Patel Agitation to Stop Rumours: Gujarat Govt

The Gujarat government today told the High Court here that mobile internet service was banned during last month's agitation of the Patel community for reservation only to prevent circulation of rumours.

A division bench of acting Chief Justice Jayant Patel and Justice N V Anjaria was hearing a public interest litigation which seeks that the week-long ban be declared as illegal and those who imposed it be held accountable.

The BJP government in the state had banned mobile internet services from August 25 night as the agitation turned violent. The ban was in operation for almost a week.

Defending the decision, government pleader Manisha Luvkumar said the objective was to curb the rumours which were spreading after the police detained Hardik Patel, leader of the agitation, on the evening of August 25.

"As the news of his detention went viral, everything went out of control. The situation demanded the ban," she said.

There were nine `apps' which circulated messages to encourage the Patels to attend the mega rally in Ahmedabad that day, she said.

Some of the messages which started circulating after Hardik's detention were provocative and the government got inputs from IB that they can jeopardie law and order so the mobile internet was shut off, she said.

Gaurav Vyas, the petitioner, has demanded that such a ban shouldn't be imposed in future as it violates the fundamental rights. After clamping a curfew, such a ban was not needed, the PIL says, adding that just blocking social media sites would have served the purpose.

The wholesale ban caused a lot of inconvenience to the people as mobile banking services became unavailable.

After hearing submissions from both the sides, the High Court reserved its order.

Meanwhile, reacting to the PIL, Hardik Patel today claimed that he was not behind the messages. "When I was detained, police confiscated my phone and the next day there was ban on internet," he said, adding if the government proved that he circulated the messages, he was ready to go to jail.

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