The West Bengal government has decided to ban internet services for a few hours in several regions to prevent some unlawful activities during the class 10 state board examination.
According to the state government’s order, the internet and broadband services will be banned in a few blocks of Maldah, Murshidabad, Birbhum, Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling, Uttar Dinajpur and Coochbehar districts. The services will remain suspended between 11 am to 3.15 pm on March 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, & 16. Approximately 6,21,931 girls and 4,96,890 boys have appeared for the board examination this year. The internet services will not be suspended on March 10 while the assembly election counting of Goa, UP, Manipur, Punjab and Uttarakhand will take place.
The decisions have been taken to stop the mass cheating in the ongoing board examination.
However, the state government clarified that no restrictions have been imposed on voice calls and SMS and newspapers.
This big move has been taken after the unpleasant incidents took place in 2019 and 2020 during the examination period. In 2019 and 2020 the question papers were leaked through social media platforms from some examination centres within an hour of commencement of exams. Last year, the examination was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In 2019, Bengali, English, Mathematics and Life Science question papers were circulated through the what’s app. Similarly, in 2020, the purported images of the Bengali question paper were circulated in what’s app. However, the WBBSE authorities had announced that the circulated question paper was not as same as the ones which were being used in the examination.
The president of WBBSE (West Bengal Board of State Education) told PTI: “The board has no role in this issue. It is purely an administrative decision taken by the state secretariat.”
According to the state education department, for the first time internet and broadband are being officially suspended during exam hour and it was done previously as well but without any announcement.
The state said, “The government has received intelligence reports that unlawful activities can be carried in certain areas over internet transmissions and voice over internet telephony and hence restrictions are being imposed on the use of the internet.”
According to the order, “In order to prevent obstruction, annoyance or injury to any person lawfully employed, or danger to human life, health or safety, or a disturbance of the public tranquillity, or a riot or an affray, through an order under Sec. 144 Cr.P.C. and in compliance of sub-rule 2(1) of Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Service) Rules, 2017 and sub-rule 2(A) of Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Amendment) Rules, 2020 it is promulgated that: Any data related message or class of messages to or from any person or class of persons relating to any particular subject brought for transmission by or transmitted or received by any telegraph within the ambit of the India Telegraph Act, 1885, shall temporarily not be transmitted in the interest of maintaining public order and preventing incitement to the commission of any offence within the jurisdiction of the Block/Police Stations listed in the Annexure and duly authenticated by me,”