India blocks mobile internet for an entire state because of protests

 
Clara Guibourg
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Hardik Patel (centre) at a protest (Source: Getty)

India blocked mobile internet in the entire state of Gujarat, in response to political protests being organised through Whatsapp, which have turned violent.

Some 63m people living in the western state are affected by the blackout, and authorities say internet services will only resume after the protests subside.

The protests are led by the state’s politically influential Patel community, after 22-year-old politician Hardik Patel was detained by police yesterday.

While detained, Patel reportedly used Whatsapp to urge his supporters to remain calm, before the service was shut down:

I make an appeal to maintain peace and keep calm.

Whatsapp has also been his supporters' tool of choice: they've been using the messaging app to send out messages and organise protests, according to a police officer interviewed by Indian news site NDTV:

Last night, there were concerns of rumour-mongering and crowd mobilization through WhatsApp.

A curfew has also been imposed throughout the state, after huge demonstrations that turned violent.