Mobile internet remains suspended, ban orders imposed after protests
Imphal: Mobile internet services remain suspended across Manipur and banning orders have been imposed in some areas following an indefinite economic blockade on two national highways called by a student body for more autonomy for districts Hills.
Vehicular traffic and supplies from Assam have been affected due to blockade on Imphal-Dimapur highway (NH-2) and Imphal-Jiribam highway (NH-39) imposed by the Students’ Union tribes of Manipur (ATSUM).
An order issued by Special Secretary (Interior) H. Gyan Prakash late August 6 said mobile internet services had been suspended for five days because some “anti-social elements were using social media to transmit hate speech”.
India has recorded the highest number of no’s, according to reports. Internet shutdowns for the 4th consecutive year in 2021. Border states, including Manipur more recently, have been particularly sensitive. Such movements have no place in a democratic society – @AshwiniVaishnaw @internetfreedom https://t.co/dWSRiJSEZM
— Pradyut Bordoloi (@pradyutbordoloi) August 7, 2022
Nagaon Lok Sabha MP Pradyut Bordoloi tweeted against the internet shutdown, noting that border states like Manipur are the most susceptible. Bordoloi is also the organizer of the Congress party’s Northeast Congress Coordinating Committee, tasked with reviving the party in the region.
Later in the day, Bordoloi wrote on Twitter that he had written to Union Communications Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, raising the issue and seeking his intervention.
In light of the recent suspension of internet services in Manipur and the wider trend of internet shutdowns in the country, I have written to the Honorable Minister of Communications @AshwiniVaishnaw raising this issue and requesting his intervention 👇@INCNEIndia @internetfreedom pic.twitter.com/RZJExNcRFD
— Pradyut Bordoloi (@pradyutbordoloi) August 8, 2022
The decision was taken after a vehicle was set on fire by disbelievers at Phougakchao Ikhang in Bishnupur district on Saturday night, officials said. PTI.
The incident led to community tensions, the order added.
A few hours later, another vehicle was also set on fire in Torbung-Bangla in the neighborhood by masked men, PTI reported.
Meanwhile, District Magistrates of Bishnupur and Churachandpur have imposed restraining orders under Section 144 of the CrPC for a period of two months since Saturday night.
The Manipur government has ordered a #internetshutdown across the state for five days. We will file RTI requests with the state to verify compliance with Honorable Supreme Court directives to Anuradha Bhasin and work to protect residents’ digital rights. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/uOIRIcd78r
— Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF) (@internetfreedom) August 7, 2022
The Internet Freedom Foundation tweeted that it would file Right to Know requests to verify the shutdown’s compliance with Supreme Court guidelines. The organization, which monitors internet right access across the country, also urged the Manipur government review committee to meet and review the internet suspension and record its findings. “We also urge the Secretary, Home of Manipur to continuously monitor whether an extended 5-day internet shutdown is warranted,” he continued. tweeted.
The ATSUM lobbied for the Manipur Autonomous District Council (Hill Areas) (Amendment) Bill 2021 to be tabled in the monsoon session of the assembly. The bill would mean greater financial and administrative autonomy for the hill region, with the stated aim of ensuring development on par with the valley regions of the state.
Instead, the Bharatiya Janata Party state government led by N. Biren Singh introduced the Manipur District Council (Hill Areas) 6th and 7th Amendment Bills earlier in the week, this which, according to the demonstrators, did not comply with their demands.
The ATSUM had been observing a total shutdown in the tribal-dominated Kangpokpi and Senapati since Tuesday, after the new amendments were introduced out of the blue.
Schools, colleges, shops and commercial establishments were closed due to the shutdown, while passenger buses remained off the roads. The strike ended on the morning of Friday August 5, following which the “economic blockade” began, affecting the supply of the Imphal Valley region dominated by Meitei.
Police arrested five ATSUM student leaders, charging them with “conspiracy” for their role in organizing the protests.
—Pagin Haokip (@paaginhaokip) August 4, 2022
(With PTI inputs)
Note: This report has been modified since publication with additional updates.