The government has no data on the number of internet shutdowns in the country, and it also does not maintain any data on the number of attacks that took place on religious institutions, the Ministry of Home Affairs told the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, March 10.
The ministry justified the suspension of telecom and internet services and said it helped curb fake news and misinformation. The ministry also provided details about the methodology for controlling fake news and misinformation.
"Information in cyber-space flows fast and has the 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," The New Indian Express quoted junior Home Minister Nityanand Rai as saying.
Rai further said that the Centre did not maintain any specific data regarding the attacks on religious communities or institutions. He was responding to a question seeking details of violence against Christians in the last five years.
In response to the questions seeking information on the rise in attacks on Hindu temples, the minister said that 'prevention, detection, registration, investigation and prosecution of offences' were the concerns of state/UT governments, as public order and police are state subjects.
During the session, the ministry also clarified that the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) was not used unnecessarily against minorities and backward classes.
Recently the Minister of State for Home Affairs, G Kishan Reddy, had shared the data on UAPA cases registered in the last five years with the Parliament. The data revealed that there was a steady rise in the invocation of UAPA and cases of sedition since 2017.
As many as 5,128 cases under UAPA and 229 cases of sedition were filed across India from 2015-2019. Of the total sedition cases across India, 30 were lodged in 2015, 35 in 2016, 51 in 2017, 70 in 2018, and 93 in 2019.
The MHA revealed that as many as 1,948 persons were arrested under the UAPA in 1,226 cases that were registered across the country in 2019. The number of people arrested under the anti-terror law stood at 1128 in 2015, 999 in 2016, 1554 in 2017, and 1421 in 2018. While the cases registered under the UAPA from 2015-2018 stood at 897, 922, 901 and 1182 respectively.