New Delhi (NVI): The Ministry of External Affairs today said that certain restrictions with regard to internet access in regions surrounding Delhi were put in place to prevent further violence, as part of maintaining law and order, and not to hinder access to information or affect freedom of expression.
The MEA’s reaction came after a statement from the US State Department earlier today on the violence that took place in Delhi during the farmers’ rally.
In its statement today, the State Department referred to the suspension of the internet facility in certain areas where farmers are staging protests, during January 26 clashes between police and protesters.
The temporary measures on the internet at the border areas, where protesting farmers have been camping for over two months, were taken after the country witnessed violence and vandalism at the historic Red Fort in Delhi, besides other incidents.
“We recognise that unhindered access to information, including the internet, is fundamental to the freedom of expression and a hallmark of a thriving democracy,” the US State Department said in its statement.
While responding to the US remarks on the recent incidents of violence during farmers rally in Delhi, MEA spokesman Anurag Srivastava said: “India and the United States are both vibrant democracies with shared values.The incidents of violence and vandalism at the historic Red Fort on 26 January have evoked similar sentiments and reactions in India as did the incidents on the Capitol Hill on 6 January and are being addressed as per our respective local laws.”
“The temporary measures with regard to internet access in certain parts of the NCR region were therefore understandably undertaken to prevent further violence,” he added.
Srivastava further said that India has taken note of comments of the US State Department.
“It is important to see such comments in the context in which they were made and in their entirety. As you can see, the US state department has acknowledged steps being taken by India towards agricultural reforms,” he said.
“Any protests must be seen in the context of India’s democratic ethos and polity, and the ongoing efforts of the Government and the concerned farmer groups to resolve the impasse,” he added.
MEA’s reaction also comes after amid some critical comments made on the January 26 incidents by a few foreign celebrities like pop star Rihanna.
On January 26, hundreds of protesters, breaking away from their designated routes for tractor rally in the national capital, clashed with police, lay siege to Red Fort and climbed the flagpole.
In his ‘Mann ki Baat’ radio address on January 31, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that the country was shocked and saddened to witness the insult of Tricolor at Red Fort on January 26 during farmers rally in Delhi.
Yesterday, the Supreme Court refused to entertain a clutch of petitions seeking an investigation into the Republic-Day violence in Delhi during farmers’ tractor rally.