The All Naga Students’ Association, Manipur (ANSAM) has threatened to start resorting to various forms of agitation if the internet ban is not lifted within five days from the publication of this report.
The ANSAM also reminded that it had already appealed to the Manipur government on September 7 and September 29 pertaining to the blanket banning of the internet in the state mentioning various reasons to lift the suspension/curbing of mobile internet or data services order through VPN in the interests of the public.
In a statement issued to Newmai News Network on Tuesday, the Naga student body recalled that the order of the state government suspending the internet services was promulgated on May 3, 2023 due to the ongoing violence in the state 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 158 days since the internet was shut down in the state partially lifting the order for specific users in the state. “Lifting the order only for 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 ANSAM reasoned.
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, it added.
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 healthcare services which plays a crucial role in healthy delivery accessing medical information for the medical students, the All Naga Students Association, Manipur (ANSAM) raised its “deep” concern in the interests of the students and the “Nagas who have been maintaining neutrality at this crucial juncture after serious observation to the ongoing situation in the state”.
The internet is not merely a communication system but it is a chosen platform for research and information among many others, said the Naga student body. 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 also said. This, to some extent, causes widespread censorship and violation of citizens’ fundamental rights given in the constitution, it further added.
The Naga student body, “with a serious concern to the ongoing situation in the state and perturbed by the delinquency of the state government”, called upon the state government of Manipur to lift the order of internet shutdown within five days or not to extend the ban further but to restore internet connectivity in the state, failing which the ANSAM said it “will take up various forms of agitation to show our strong resentment against the government’s act”.
Further, the ANSAM reiterated its stand demanding to declare the result of the interview held in the month of September 2021 for the appointment of 190 posts of assistant professors (145+45 ST Special Drive) for government colleges of Manipur at the earliest.