Imphal: Amid continuing sporadic incidents of violence, the Manipur government on Monday extended the suspension of Internet services for the seventh times till June 10 to avert the spread of rumours and videos, photos, and messages, which might affect the law and order situation in the ethnic violence-hit northeastern state.
Commissioner, Home, H. Gyan Prakash, in a fresh notification extending the suspension of Internet services till June 10, said that the Director General of Police, Manipur, reported that there are still reports of incidents like arson of houses and premises.
“There is an apprehension that some anti-social elements might use social media extensively for transmission of images, hate speech, and hate video messages inciting the passions of the public, which might have serious repercussions for the law and order situation in the state,” the order said.
After the widespread violence broke out on May 3 in 11 of the 16 districts during and after the ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ called by the All Tribal Students’ Union of Manipur to oppose the demand for inclusion of the Meitei community in the Scheduled Tribe category, the Manipur government suspended the Internet to control the situation.
As people of the strife-torn state have been facing shortage of various essentials, transport fuel, cooking gas and life-saving drugs, disturbances in banking and online facilities shattering the normal life, the Internet suspension for over a month across the mountainous state further added to the miseries of the people.
Travel agencies, internet-based services, online booking, media, students, and the business community are facing lots of problems in the absence of Internet services.
Various organisations, including the Congress have been demanding immediate restoration of Internet service in Manipur.
Chongtham Victor Singh, an advocate with the Manipur High Court last week, filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the mechanical and repeated shutdown of the Internet in Manipur.
The petition said when the government claimed that the state was returning to normalcy, the same state authority continued to suspend the internet services.
“The suspension of internet services is grossly disproportionate in its interference with the constitutional right to freedom of speech and the right to carry on any business and professional activity using the constitutionally protected medium of the internet,” said the petition, filed through advocate Shadan Farasat.