No data on internet shutdowns, religious attacks, Centre tells Parliament

By Express News Service
NEW DELHI:  There is no centralised data on internet shutdowns in the country and the government also does not maintain national data on attacks on religious institutions, the Ministry of Home Affairs said in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. 

The ministry also provided details about the methodology to control fake news and misinformation during tensions and riots adding, that internet bans help in stopping rumours.

“Information in cyber-space flows fast and has potential of misuse. During tensions and riots, suspension of telecom services/internet shutdown is done by the appropriate authorities in the States/UTs concerned in the interest of maintaining public safety and averting public emergency,” minister of state for home Nityanand Rai told the House. 

In response to a question seeking details of violence against Christians in the last five years, Rai said, “Specific data regarding attacks against against individual communities or on their religious institutions is not maintained centrally.”

To a  question on whether there has been a sudden rise in attacks on Hindu temples, Rai said public order and police being state subjects, “prevention, detection, registration, investigation and prosecution of offences” are the concerns of state/UT  governments.

The MHA further said the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) was not used callously against minorities and backward classes. However, statistics shared by it  showed a steady rise in invocation of UAPA and sedition laws since 2017. As many as 5,128 cases under UAPA and 229 on charges of sedition have been lodged across India in a five-year period from 2015. 

In a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha, Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy said the challenges posed by cyberspace are many, which flow from its vastness and borderless character and that information in cyberspace flows fast and has the potential of being misused.

“During tensions and riots, suspension of telecom services and internet shutdown is done by the appropriate authorities in the states and UTs concerned in the interest of maintaining public safety and averting public emergency, as per procedures defined in the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Amendment) Rules, 2020,” he said.

(With PTI Inputs)