Proposal to Rename Indian District Over Its 'Caste' Causes Violence, Internet Shutdown

© Photo : YouTube/Hindustan Times Andhra mob burns minister's house, vehicles as protests against renaming Konaseema turn violent
Andhra mob burns minister's house, vehicles as protests against renaming Konaseema turn violent - Sputnik International, 1920, 30.05.2022
On 24 May, violence broke out in Amalpuram City in India's Andhra Pradesh state. Dozens were injured, including four policemen. Protesters also set the residences of a state minister and lawmaker ablaze.
Internet services remain restricted in India's Andhra Pradesh state, five days after rioting broke out over a government proposal to rename a district. .
According to the local police, the internet suspension is a precautionary measure to prevent the spreading of fake or unwanted messages.
The state administration has also imposed section 144 of the Indian Penal Code, banning any public gathering of more than four people.
Clashes erupted in the state earlier this month after the localgovernment announced plans to rename the newly created Konaseema District after the country's chief architect of the Indian Constitution, Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar.
Konaseema District is one of 13 new administrations unveiled in April.
However, authorities opted to rename it arguing that the district has "a large chunk of schedule caste (SC) population." Schedule caste citizens are some of the most disadvantaged socio-economic groups in India, and were known as “the depressed classes” or “untouchables” under British colonial rule. Dr Ambedkar was the leader of India’s iconic Dalit, or Mahar, community, which was designated as a SC group in 2017.
The proposal prompted fierce opposition from Konaseema’s upper caste or non-SC residents, who demanded that the old name should be kept.

Internet Services Affecting Remote Work

Internet services were snapped in a range of localities soon after violence erupted in Amalapuram.
A senior police officer claimed that protest leaders had used WhatsApp and other social media platforms to spark the violence.
With no internet, services including online education, payment platforms, and remote working have been left paralised.
Local media has reported that most ATMs are not working, and people have been seen checking multiple cash machines in the hope of withdrawing money.
While authorities have not announced when internet services are due to be reconnected,sources confirmed to Sputnik that it would not be before 2 June. A Dalit group -Dalit Hakkula Porata Samithi (DHPS) - is planning on holding an unauthorised public meeting and sit-downprotest on 2 June to demand that the district be renamed.
R. Pavitra, a researcher and writer for a Hong Kong-based tech company, told Sputnik, "There are many people in my area (Jaggannapeta) who are remote workers, most of them are techies, online educators, or content writers like me."

"All of us are dependent on the internet. The state government cannot suspend the internet like this. We are tax-paying citizens," Pavitra explained.

Meanwhile, many have opted to relocate to friends' or relatives' houses or hotels in other districts which still have internet.
Shreya Nandy, a software engineer, working for the Bengaluru city-based tech company, said, "I shifted to a hotel in Visakhapatnam along with two of my friends. For the past three days, we've been spending about INR 6,000-7,000 (roughly $100) for a hotel room and food. It's quite expensive."
"If things do not get better by this weekend, I have to rent a room, or I'll shift near to my office," she added.
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