As many as six student bodies of Manipur comprising MSF, DESAM, KSA, SUK and AIMS and another student organisation, pointing out the inconveniences facing the general public owing to no mobile internet access on Monday demanded immediate lifting of the existing ban on mobile internet services in the state.
The student bodies, in a joint release, debated the pros and cons of the government’s prolonged ban on mobile internet and claimed that the ban is ineffective either in triggering or quelling the unrest. It highlighted the flights facing the students and business sector owing to the internet ban and appealed to lift it considering the same.
It also expressed discontentment over the partiality in relaxation of internet services in the state, adding that the government had lifted the suspension of broadband internet services and even approved white listing of selected mobile numbers to enable internet connectivity. However, those from deprived families who are unable to afford ways to access the internet are still in the dark, it maintained.
The ongoing violent conflict in the state continues to this day with no end in sight despite the government’s continued ban on internet services, aiming to prevent incitement of violence and disturbances of peace in the state, it stated. It went on to question the government for how long it plans to impose a ban on mobile internet services.
The existing ban on mobile internet has not contributed to resolving the ongoing tension in the state, it claimed, adding that on the contrary, it will be a reason as to why the state is lagging behind in long-run development. It reiterated its appeal to lift the internet ban at the earliest.
Meanwhile, the Manipur government has yet again extended the ban on mobile internet/data services for another five more days till November 18 with immediate effect, in an effort to prevent further disturbances of peace and public order in the violence-hit state.
Latest orders issued by the government on Monday announced that the suspension/curbing of mobile internet data services, internet/data services through VPN in the territorial jurisdiction of the state of Manipur will be extended for five more days till 7.45 pm of November 18 as preventive measures in public interest.
The order issued by Commissioner (Home), Government of Manipur T Ranjit Singh, stated that the move is taken following apprehension that some anti-social elements might use media extensively for transmission of images, hate speech and hate video messages inciting the passions of public which might have serious repercussions for the law and order situation in the state.
The statement also said that there is an imminent danger of loss of life or damage to public, private property, widespread disturbances to public tranquillity and communal harmony as a result of inflammatory material or false rumours, which might be transmitted or circulated to the public through social media platforms.
The order also mentioned Manipur DGP’s report dated Sunday which mentioned exchange of firing between two communities at fringe areas of Bishnupur, Churachandpur, Imphal East, Imphal West, Kangpokpi etc., public protests like total shutdown/bandh demanding the whereabouts of the two missing youths, abduction of four individuals by unknown armed miscreants, protest by students etc.
Meanwhile, the State Government had already opened a few mobile towers on trial basis in those district headquarters which had not been affected by violence as per direction of the High Court of Manipur, it stated. The state government is considering opening and operationalising the same in other district headquarters on trial basis, if law and order situation permits, the order said.
The order is issued under the power conferred under Rule 2 of Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017, it mentioned. It added that the order is being passed ex-parte in view of the emergent situation. Any person found guilty for violation of aforesaid orders will be liable for legal action, it warned.