Ahmedabad: Ban on mobile internet services was lifted on Tuesday midnight in Gujarat by the state police. The ban was lifted a day earlier than expected, the officials told media.
The ban on mobile internet had been imposed last Tuesday (August 25) when the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) had organised a mammoth rally of around a million Patel community members seeking caste-based reservations in education and jobs.
The rally ended with violence which lashed the state for the next two days and claimed 10 lives, besides hundreds getting injured and property worth several crores of rupees damaged or destroyed in the aftermath.
With a view to curb rumour-mongering and transfer of alarmist or inflammatory material, messages and pictures, the state government had banned mobile internet services.
This had blocked social networking sites like WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter on mobile phones that are commonly used for transmitting messages on the move by the people.
Earlier, the ban was imposed till Wednesday (September 2) but after a comprehensive review of the situation on Tuesday, the ban was lifted a day in advance.
The temporary ban was implemented in Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, Rajkot, Jamnagar and other cities and towns hit by the violence last week.
With the Union Cabinet directing a blanket ban on e-cigarettes in the country with complete suspension of their manufacturing, import, export, distribution and storage, physicians welcomed the step while e-cigarette traders expressed shock and anger over the decision.
“Although, e-cigarettes are little less lethal then the conventional cigarettes, we cannot shun away the fact that it contains harmful ingredients. These chemicals can potentially affect the lungs and overall health of the individual in the long run,” Rajesh Chawla, Senior Pulmonologist at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital in New Delhi, told IANS.
Industry body TRENDS which represents importers, distributors and marketers of ENDS, or Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems in India, termed the decision to ban e-cigarettes “ironic and erratic”.
“This ban on e-cigarettes on the basis of ‘selective sourcing of scientific and medical opinion’ and without holding a single stakeholder meeting is nothing short of a complete murder of democratic norms,” said Praveen Rikhy, Convenor, TRENDS (Trade Representatives of ENDS).
“All our representations sharing best practices from other countries – 70 developed countries have allowed regulated sale of e-cigarettes, have been completely ignored. We will now initiate a formal campaign to help MPs understand the issue, clarify misapprehensions and misinformation spread by lobby groups and support the farmer groups who see the growth of the e-cigarette sector as a global market opportunity for nicotine,” Rikhy said.
While e-cigarettes have been marketed as a way for adults to quit conventional smoking, a recent outbreak of lung illness associated with use of vaping products in the US has raised concerns about the safety of these products.
The Donald Trump administration on September 12 said that it plans to ban the sale of non-tobacco-flavoured e-cigarettes in the US following six deaths linked to vaping.
Health authorities have documented a total of 450 cases involving e-cigarettes, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which issued a health warning against vaping.
“I entirely support the idea of a ban on e-cigarettes; it is a step in the right direction,” Manoj Luthra, CEO, Jaypee Hospital in Noida, told IANS.
“E-cigarettes have been projected as a means to help people to quit smoking tobacco and also being non-polluting. However, these have their own health hazards and are addictive as well. These contain nicotine and other chemical vapours which will certainly have ill effects on the heart and lung and other organs as well,” he said. (IANS)