To stop the spread of rumours in Navi Mumbai, which was the worst-hit in Wednesday’s Maratha agitation, mobile internet services in the area were suspended on Thursday. Broadband services, however, were operational.

The services in Kalamboli, Kharghar, Vashi, Kopar Khairane, Panvel, Kamothe, CBD Belapur, Nerul, Sanpada and Vashi were affected. “Mobile internet services were shut on the request of the police commissioner. We asked the service providers to shut the services for two days, but the decision may be changed [extended or restored] depending on situation,” said Tushar Doshi, deputy commissioner of police crime branch, Navi Mumbai. “The decision was taken in the wake of incidents at Kopar Khairane, where police vehicles were torched and public property was vandalised. We don’t want rumours to spread.”

This is the first instance of mobile internet services being shut in a satellite city as a precautionary measure. While Jio sent out messages to consumers that the service was suspended on instructions from the government, Vodafone, Airtel and Idea users woke up to confusion.

Sudeep Bhalla, senior vice-president (corporate communication), Vodafone, said, “We acted on the request of the government to shut down internet services in Navi Mumbai until noon.”

Meanwhile, the vigilance in Kalamboli was beefed up. During the agitation, protesters blocked the Sion-Panvel highway for several hours, including the Kamothe entry to the highway, and even hurled stones on vehicles, passers-by and police officers, in which senior police inspector from Kamothe police station was injured.

Machindra Khade, senior inspector, Kalamboli police station, said, “In the wake of Wednesday’s violent protests, we have increased vigilance. We are not bothering residents from the area, but are just questioning those seen moving around in a group.”

Public transport in demand

The residents of Navi Mumbai were mostly dependent on public transports on Thursday as app-based taxis were not operating in the city after the suspension of mobile internet services.

The buses of NMMT and BEST were packed as more and more people opted for those for intra-city and inter-city commuting.

“We normally use shared app-based taxis to go to office at Rabale MIDC. But we could not even book such taxis. Therefore, I took a bus to Nerul station and then boarded a Thane-bound train to reach Rabale,” said Minakshi Sharma, from New Panvel.

(With inputs from Pranab Jyoti Bhuyan)

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