CAA protest: India bleeds white; Telecom burnt, Tourism sees all time worst
Given to the mass protest against CAA, Section 144 and mobile internet shutdown was imposed in many parts of the country. To crack down on the protesters: state police, Central Reserved Police Force (CRPF), and Rapid Action Force (RAF) were deployed to sensitive areas in a heavy number. This silent protest turned violent when both the sides indulged themselves in a dogfight. Where protesters where seen pelting, inflicting injuries to the police force, burning vehicles and public properties, even setting many police-stations on fire, police also caught on CCTV and mobile cameras violently thrashing protesters, firing gun rounds that took many lives, destroying properties mostly targeting particular areas, that escalated the tension through out the nation.
- New Delhi: The streets of India were flooded with millions of people of all ages and creed, protesting against the alleged 'discriminatory' Citizenship Amendment Act passed on December 11, in both the houses of parliament by the ruling party, making it an Act that provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan exclusively excluding Muslims.
Given to the mass protest against CAA, Section 144 and mobile internet shutdown was imposed in many parts of the country. To crack down on the protesters: state police, Central Reserved Police Force (CRPF), and Rapid Action Force (RAF) were deployed to sensitive areas in a heavy number. This silent protest turned violent when both the sides indulged themselves in a dogfight. Where protesters where seen pelting, inflicting injuries to the police force, burning vehicles and public properties, even setting many police-stations on fire, police was also caught on CCTV and mobile cameras violently thrashing protesters, firing gun rounds that took many lives, destroying properties that escalated the tension through out the nation. While police say that they opened fire in self-defence, families of those killed and eyewitnesses reject the claim.
At least ten countries – the US, UAE, Canada, UK, Australia, France, Israel, Taiwan, Russia and Singapore – have issued travel warnings asking their citizens to refrain from visiting India or exercise caution in view of the protests against the Act, some of which have turned violent.
In such a state of mayhem, where thousands of people were detained and dozens lost their lives, where mobile internet services were disrupted and section 144 was imposed, India suffered a major economic setback in just few days of anti-protest demonstration.
With GDP estimated to go further down to the lowest level of all time i.e 5.4 for 2020, the nation bled white and was robbed of hefty amount that comes from tourism.
PANICKED TOURISTS CANCEL FLIGHTS TO TAJ MAHAL, RESULTS IN 60% DECLINE IN TOURISM
In just two weeks about two lakh domestic and international tourists are estimated to either have cancelled or postponed their trip to the iconic Taj Mahal in the city of Agra in Uttar Pradesh, as per Tourism officials.
“There has been a 60% decline in visitor footfalls in December this year [compared to December 2018],” said a police inspector, Dinesh Kumar who oversees a special tourist police station near the mausoleum.
One of the seven wonders of the world, Taj Mahal attracts around 65 lakh tourists every year, which generates $14 million (Rs 99.99 crore) revenue from entrance fees alone. But due to the mass protest, Section-144 and internet shut-down, which felt like a state of emergency in parts of India, instilled a sense of fear among the tourists that disturbed the tourism.
As per president of the Agra Tourism Development Foundation, Sandeep Arora, “Blocking the internet has affected travel and tourism in Agra by about 50-60%.”
Adding salt to injury, CAA protest in a country witnessing economic slowdown badly affected other businesses too. The luxury hotels and guest houses around the mausoleum hit worst because of the last-minute cancellations in December.
GOA TOURISM REGISTERS 50% SLUMP
A state which is largely dependent on tourism for its revenue, saw a 50% reduction in tourists during December. As per official figures, Goa’s annual tourist arrivals sits at nearly six million.
The slump in tourism also hit hotel business and the beach shacks also received fewer customers.
However, due to lack of any major protests against the CAA in the state, downfall in tourism could not be blamed to protests but economic slowdown, with the GDP's poor performance for more than six years, could also have dissuaded domestic tourists from vacationing.
ASSAM TOURISM SEES 90% DOWN-FALL
Talking about Assam, the state Tourism Development Corporation head Jayanta Malla Baruah said that around five lakh tourists visit the state every December. “But this time, due to the ongoing protests and travel advisories by various countries, the number is down by 90% if not more.
OTHER STATES WERE ALSO AFFECTED
In states like Himachal Pradesh, Odisha and Uttarakhand tourism witnessed a drop irrespective of any intense protest. Prominent hill stations like Dharamshala and Dalhousie, in Himachal Pradesh were also badly-off of tourists. As per some tour organizers even though the discounts they weren't able to attract tourists in the holiday season. The president of a hoteliers association said that in comparison to previous years, booking drastically dropped by 70%.
TELECOM OPERATOR'S STRUGGLE WITH INTERNET SHUT-DOWN COST THEM $24.5 MILLIONS PER HOUR
The internet disruption has become a tradition in India and is now considered to be the most effective way to curb protest, just like a panacea to treat political epidemic.
After serving Jammu and Kashmir successfully for decades, the Internet shut-down is now being implemented in other parts of India with its complimentary yet equally important counterpart, section-144 to mute the raising voices against injustice and discrimination by the nation's ruling government.
As per a top Telecom lobby group, Mobile operators in India are losing around 2.45 crore ($350,000) in revenue every hour when they are forced to suspend internet services following the government orders to control protests against CAA.
People who use online apps such as Instagram and TikTok as the medium of earning also suffered loss. The internet suspensions has also attracted criticism by many internet freedom activists.
As per Swedish telecoms Gear Maker Ericsson's report, Indians consume an average of 9.8 gigabyte data per month on their smartphones, the highest in the world. India has also the largest number of social media users for Facebook and its messenger WhatsApp, making it again top the list.
The revenue losses will pile on to the woes of telecoms players in India, bruised by a price war and saddled with a combined $13 billion in overdue payments following a Supreme Court ruling in October, last year.
Internet services in Kashmir were suspended for over 140 days since ruling government scrapped Article 370 from J-K, relegating its status to a federal administered territory from a state, making it the longest internet shutdown in a democracy, according to a report.
The Citizenship Amendment Act, approved by Parliament on December 11, refrains Muslim refugees (Though gives citizenship to Sikh, Hindus, Christians, Buddhist and Jain refugees) from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan to take up Indian Citizenship, on the grounds that they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. The law has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims from granting Indian Citizenship.
Not only CAA but a plan for a national register of citizens (NRC) by the Modi-led BJP government, is also seen by many critics as an anti-Muslim move. Fighting the current government from imposing its will on the people of India, millions have joined the mass protest against 'discriminatory' Citizenship law.