Chennai: As a precautionary measure and to prevent the spread of Thoothukudi violence to adjacent districts of Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari, the state home secretary Niranjan Mardi on Wednesday passed government orders to the all nodal officers of Internet service providers directing them to suspend the internet connections in the three districts.
The order said the state received information that about 20,000 people had convened due to the spread of messages in social media and there was information that videos instigating people with half-truths were being spread via social media aimed to disturb the public peace. Invoking the public safety and emergency rules 2017, the government now directed the private telecom sectors to suspend Internet connection from May 23 to 27.
Meanwhile there were also reports of cable TVs being disconnected and news items related to the Sterlite stir blacked out in several parts in south TN.
Needless to say, the suspension of Internet has caused concern among the people in the three southern districts, already distressed over the happenings over the last few days in the police action on anti-Sterlite protesters.
"This is reminding us of the Emergency period. How will the people there access their bank accounts and book railway tickets?" asked T Sadagoppan, president, Tamil Nadu Progressive Consumer Forum.
In the government side, it could be argued that the order to suspend the Net during this incendiary period is justified. Consider this: a video of a woman TV actor called Nilani abusing the police for firing on 'peaceful' protesters in Thoothukudi and calling for a statewide 'revolt' to bring down 'this spineless government', has gone viral. The actor was in a police uniform for her role in a serial (Tamarai) in a Tamil channel and pointing to the dress, Nilani tells the viewer she is "ashamed of being seen in the police dress".
And here is the punch-line in this disturbing narrative: This highly provocative video, which can easily be termed as hugely derogatory to the policemen doing their bit to restore order in trying circumstances - torn between political considerations - was circulated on social media in Thoothukudi and neighbourhood as being done by a 'real' police officer ashamed of her job and the uniform.
A man in Vadapalani complained to the police saying he was shocked by the video instigating revolt against the State and denigrating the police. The Vadapalani police have registered a case under various sections, including the IT Act. "We are trying to locate the woman in the video", said Inspector Chandru of the Vadapalani police station.
Needless to say, Niranjan Mardi had no other option but to sign that order.
Traders join protest backing agitators
While Thoothukudi was on boil for the second consecutive day the anti-Sterlite protests snowballed into violent agitations across Tamil Nadu.
Traders' association announced statewide bandh in the district on Wednesday. Chennai also witnessed agitations near state secretariat, parry’s Corner with lawyers and students jumping in to protests....