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Thursday, October 28, 2021

Rajasthan shuts Internet as 16 lakh appear for REET 2021

Nearly 16 lakh candidates appeared for the Rajasthan Eligibility Examination for Teachers (REET) — held to recruit Level 1 (class 1-5) and Level 2 (classes 6-8) teachers — in 4,019 centres across the state on Sunday. The last REET was conducted in 2018.

Written by Hamza Khan | Jaipur |
Updated: September 27, 2021 7:29:24 pm
At an exam centre in Jaipur, Sunday. (Express photo by Rohit Jain Paras)

A teachers’ entrance examination held on Sunday saw an unprecedented shutdown of internet services and businesses across Rajasthan on the orders of the administration.

Nearly 16 lakh candidates appeared for the Rajasthan Eligibility Examination for Teachers (REET) — held to recruit Level 1 (class 1-5) and Level 2 (classes 6-8) teachers — in 4,019 centres across the state on Sunday. The last REET was conducted in 2018.

On Friday, Principal Secretary, Home, Abhay Kumar had written to the state, divisional and district officials to take a call on suspending internet services to enforce law and order, and to prevent fraud during the exam. “About 16 lakh students will participate in REET 2021 and will travel from one district to another. In such a situation, there is a possibility of deteriorating law and order situation due to fake news, rumours of accidents, paper leak, etc,” he wrote. Thus, keeping in mind the Central government’s 2017 notification on “public safety” and “public emergency”, Kumar asked the Divisional Commissioners to take a call on suspending internet services.

Barring Jaisalmer, where Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and his wife Usha Naidu arrived on Sunday, internet services remained suspended for different durations across the state on the orders of the Divisional Commissioners.

In Jaipur division, Divisional Commissioner Dinesh Kumar Yadav issued orders for suspension of internet services in Alwar, Dausa, Jaipur, Jhunjhunu and Sikar. In his order, Yadav said it has become necessary to suspend, “2G/3G/4G/ Data (mobile internet), internet services, bulk SMS/MMS WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and other Social Media Services through Internet Service Providers (except voice calls and broadband internet).”

In Jaipur Urban, orders were issued for suspension of the internet for 10 hours between 7 am and 5 pm; in Jaipur Rural, it was between 7.30 am and 5.30 pm. Internet services were suspended for 12 hours, between 6 am and 6 pm, in Alwar, Dausa, and Jhunjhunu, while it was suspended for nine hours, between 8 am and 5 pm, in Sikar. The internet shutdown hit food aggregators such as Zomato that displayed messages on suspension of services.

Local businesses were affected and mostly stayed shut across the state.

In Jaipur, the district administration had earlier held meetings with trade association representatives and requested them to keep their establishments shut on Sunday. “It was a voluntary decision following the administration’s request. Barring essential services such as shops selling food items, restaurants, juice shops, medical stores, etc. everything else remained shut,” said Jaipur Vyapar Mahasangh president Subhash Goyal, claiming about 80,000 to 90,000 shops remained shut in Jaipur. “Business worth around Rs 100 crore was affected in Jaipur today due to suspension of internet services,” he added.

As the internet suspension hit life across the state, BJP state president Satish Poonia attacked the Congress government, saying, “There is a stark difference between the words and deeds of the Congress party… Shutting down the internet on such a large scale caused inconvenience to the public. Even after suspending the internet, there were several irregularities. The government will have to come up with a strategy,” Poonia said.

Incidentally, in 2018, while it was in the opposition, the Congress had opposed the suspension of internet for police constable recruitment examinations.

Barring minor incidents, the examination, held amidst strict security, went off peacefully.

On Sunday evening, Rajendra Gupta, spokesperson of the Rajasthan Board of Secondary Education (RBSE), said about 95 per cent of the 16.51 lakh eligible candidates appeared for the exam, which was held in two sessions, from 10 am to 12.30 pm and from 2.30 pm to 5 pm.

In Bikaner, five persons, including three REET candidates, were arrested before the exam as the aspirants were found wearing slippers with Bluetooth devices.

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