The Union Territory of Lakshadweep currently has almost 2,000 active COVID-19 cases. During the deadly second wave of the COVID 19 pandemic, the Internet has become even more crucial with citizens looking for resources online. Students have been taking online classes, businesses have been running online, professionals are working from home and telemedicine is enabling citizens to access medical help. Citizens in the entire country have been looking for life saving resources such as essential drugs, oxygen cylinders, hospital beds and ambulance services online. In absence of stable internet, vaccination appointments cannot be booked as Vaccination appointments for the age group of 18-44 years are available through an online portal called Cowin run by the Government of India. Walk-in vaccination slots are difficult to find and citizens mainly rely on the CoWin platform to book slots for vaccination.
The citizens in the island have also been protesting against certain policies implemented by the administration. The internet is the only means available to them to get their voices heard. Denying access to the Internet will be a violation of their right to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under the Constitution of India.
Through this letter, SFLC.in urges to the government in the Union Territory to not impose an internet shutdown or do network throttling and to ensure that citizens have access to full speed stable internet.
We have been tracking internet shutdowns in India since the year 2012 and the data is available at internetshutdowns.in. We have collected data about the internet shutdowns and its impact on the people across India in the form of Voices.