Mobile internet services suspended in Manipur for 5 days. here’s why

The Manipur government suspended internet services for five days across the state to curb rising communal tensions after a vehicle was set on fire by 3-4 men in Phougakchao Ikhang on Saturday.

As per the order issued by Special Secretary (Interior) H Gyan Prakash, some anti-social elements are trying to incite public anger by spreading hate speech on social media. After the vehicle was set on fire on Saturday evening, the Bishnupur District Magistrate immediately imposed Section 144 of the CrPC across the valley for two months. The unrest control measure in the state had added to the woes of the residents of the state, who had already faced problems due to the economic blockade put in place by the All Tribal Manipur Student Union (ATSUM) along state highways on Friday morning. The ATSUM is an effective body of tribal students in the state.

The ATSUM had called for the introduction of the Manipur Autonomous District Council (Hill Areas) Bill 2021 in the assembly. A valley-based organization, Meitei Leepun, closed its ATSUM Imphal office in the valley region after the lockdown was imposed. Meitei Leepun claimed that the blockade was aimed at the valley of the state.

For a very long time, ATSUM has been seeking the approval of the Manipur Autonomous District Council (Hill Areas) (Amendment) Bill 2021. The bill will ensure autonomy of the hilly areas of the state, which will allow equal development of the hilly areas of Manipur in comparison with the valley region.

However, the state government has decided to introduce the 6th and 7th Manipur District Council (Hill Areas) Amendment Bills on August 2. The bill’s introduction came without any announcement, sparking apprehensions among ATSUM members about the autonomy of the hilly areas of the state. Members say they are unsure whether the Amendment Bill introduced by the BJP government led by N Biren Singh is similar to the Manipur Autonomous District Council (Hill Areas) Bill 2021 or not. That is why ATSUM had been observing a total shutdown in the hill dominated by the Kangpokpi and Senapati tribes since Tuesday after the amendment bills were introduced out of the blue.

In this standoff between ATSUM and the state government, the supply of raw materials from Assam in the state has been hit hard by the blockade imposed by ATSUM. The long line of trucks loaded with materials is getting longer on Imphal-Dimapur highway and Imphal-Jiribum highway over time.

With PTI entries

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