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Fact Check: Did PM Modi Announce A One-week Internet Shutdown In India Amid Coronavirus?

Fact check: False messages and photoshopped images are being circulated on social media claiming that PM Modi & Maharashtra CM have announced Internet shutdowns

PM Modi

CLAIM:

Internet shutdown announced in India

RATING:

False

  • Fake messages on WhatsApp, Facebook, and other social media websites are being circulated about a 10-day Internet shutdown in the country.
  • One image shows Prime Minister Narendra Modi announcing the Internet shutdown for one week, and claims that it is being done to avoid panic in people spread through social media.
  • Another image has Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray announcing the shutdown of 'Wi-Fi' from April 1 to April 15, as if such a thing is even possible. 

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Republic World did a fact check on whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi or Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray have announced such an Internet shutdown.

Amid rising cases of novel Coronavirus, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a complete 21-day lockdown in the country starting March 25. Earlier on March 23, in view of the soaring COIVD-19 cases in Maharashtra, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray announced a curfew across the state.

Soon after, WhatsApp messages were circulated claiming a shutdown of Internet and Wi-Fi. TV snips with images of Uddhav Thackeray and PM Modi also surfaced on Twitter and Facebook.

As rumours of Internet shutdown increased panic among the citizens, some took to Twitter and other social media to call it "ten days of darkness". It gave way to other rumours that the only source of information that will be left is the emergency broadcast system. 

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Google trends analysis shows a surge in the number of people looking for 'Internet shutdown' and related queries like 'PM announces internet shutdown', 'Internet shutdown in India' on March 27.

Republic World has found the claim to be incorrect as no such announcements have been made. Neither any Ministry under Government of India, nor any state government has made an official announcement about it 

PM Modi announced 21-day lockdown

  • PM Modi announced a nationwide lockdown for 21 days as a measure to tackle the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. However, soon after the announcement, the MHA issued a detailed order on guidelines for the lockdown. As per the order,
  • All offices of the government barring for those providing essential services will remain shut. They will function with a minimum number of employees.
  • Hospitals and all medical establishments will be open and the transport of the people working in this field will be permitted.
  • All commercial establishments and private organizations will be closed. The exemptions include print and electronic media, shops selling essential items, e-delivery of food, medical equipment, banks, petrol pumps, etc.
  • The suspension of transport and hospitality services shall continue. 
  • A day later, the MHA issued an Addendum specifying more categories of essential services exempted during the period of the 21-day lockdown. This included the IT vendor for banking operations, coal and mineral production, manufacturing units of packaging material for food items, medical devices, the inter-state movement of goods for imports and exports and cross land border movement of essential items such as LPG, medical supplies and food products.
  • The Reserve Bank of India, RBI regulated financial markets and entities such as NCPI, CCI, etc. will function with bare minimum staff.
  • Additionally, the personnel required to operate and maintain zoo, nursery, wildlife, and related activities have been exempted from the lockdown regulations.
  • It was clarified that Railways, Airports, and Seaports shall be operational for cargo movement, relief, and evacuation. 

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Maharashtra govt lockdown

  • The guidelines by Maharashtra govt includes the following:
  • Essential services such as grocery, milk, medical shops, etc. will remain open.
  • All places of worship will be closed. 
  • Al the district borders within the state will be sealed
  • All the public transport will not be permitted except for essential services. 
  • All public transport services including inter-city MSRTC buses and metro shall not be permitted. 
  • Taxis with not more than two persons besides the driver, auto-rickshaws with not more than one passenger besides the driver are permitted only for the purposes specified in the order.
  • The transport of passengers for accessing emergency medical services shall be permitted.
  • Plying of private vehicles shall be restricted only to the extent of procuring essential commodities, health services and activities permitted under this order, and with only two persons besides the driver."
  • Operation of inter-state/intra-state bus and passenger transport services including those by private operators shall stand suspended.
  • Gyms, swimming schools, theatres and all education institutions are shut in the state until March 31.

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