The All Naga Students’ Association, Manipur (ANSAM) has expressed its concern over the continuing banning of internet services in Manipur.
In a statement issued on Thursday, the ANSAM said the order of the state government suspending the internet services was promulgated on May 3, 2023, due to the ongoing ethnic violence between Kuki-Zo community and Meitei community to curb the spread of rumours, videos, photos and social media comments which may further escalate the prevailing situation and deteriorate the law and order situation in the state.
It has been more than 120 days since the internet was shut down in the state, partially lifting the order for specific users in the state, it stated.
Lifting the order only for a few broadband users and government offices for administrative purposes with exorbitant rate does not provide a solution to the necessities in times of urgency and cannot be a justification to its proportionality of the ongoing violence and prevailing situation, the Naga student body also said.
According to the ANSAM, the delayed response and lack of sincere intervention from the central government to the prevailing situation in the state raises concerns about its propriety and effectiveness of the internet shutdown whether it is being used as a tool to suppress information and control the narrative surrounding the events happening in Manipur.
The Naga student body then said, “Considering the adverse impacts due to the prolonged internet shutdown on economic status in the state, disruption of communication while accessing emergency services, educational limitations and research hindering access to online educational resources, impediment to heath care services which plays a crucial role in healthy delivery accessing medical information for the medical students, the All Naga Students Association, Manipur (ANSAM) raises our deep concern in the interests of the students and Nagas who have been maintaining neutrality at this crucial juncture after serious observation to the ongoing situation in the state”.
It further said internet is not merely a communication system but it is a chosen platform for research and information among many others. Consequently, internet shutdown in the state has serious implication for the entire population which includes the peace loving Nagas who have no role in causing apprehended danger or nuisance in the ongoing violence, the ANSAM added. “This, to some extent, causes widespread censorship and violation of citizen fundamental rights given in the Indian constitution,” the Naga student body further added.
The ANSAM then said that the student body, “with a serious concern” to the ongoing situation in the state, appealed to the state government to lift the order of internet shutdown and restore internet connectivity in the state by white-listing the accessible websites and allowing specific and verified social media websites/apps and at specific geographical locations.
The ANSAM then “strongly” condemned the “cowardice act” of two KRA cadres for assaulting Zuina Hotngambou, a former chairmen of Lenglong Naga village. He was beaten severely by two KRA cadres for refusing to give Rs 300 while he was taking some bananas to Kangpokpi in a pick-up truck along with his wife and son, the ANSAM also said. “Such shameful act of KRA is a matter of prestige for the organization and the question of its integrity and ideology of their revolutionary movement,” it added.
The ANSAM then said the Nagas have been maintaining the position of neutrality in this ongoing “ethnic violence while extending “our sincere” efforts to restore the situation back to normalcy and “our position should not be taken advantage by any other community as a toothless lion”. It added, “We are observing the situation with patience and we will not remain as mere spectators if such unwanted and shameful act keep on repeating to the Nagas in the coming days,” it cautioned.
The ANSAM also said “with a serious concern to this shameful and cowardice act of two KRA cadres towards the innocent Naga citizen”, appealed to the concerned leaders and authorities to take up befitting action against the two KRA cadres and make sure that such acts are not repeated.