Imphal: The Manipur Human Rights Commission (MHRC) has asked the state government to consider restoration of Internet services which had been suspended since the ethnic violence broke out in the state on May 3, commission sources said on Thursday.
MHRC Chairperson Justice Utpalendu Bikash Saha and member K.K. Singh in an order on Wednesday asked the Commissioner (Home) to consider restoration of Internet services in Manipur for providing benefits to the citizens to balance the security of the state and the right to freedom of expression.
The rights panel issued the order following a complaint from one Kammingthang Hangshingan, an Aizawl (Mizoram) resident, on the suspension of Internet services in Churachandpur district of Manipur last month. The complaint called it a “human rights violation”.
The MHRC in its order said: “We are of the view that the Internet plays a vital role in the modern day life, more so when the young generation of the country who are working from home through the Internet and also the students who would appear in the examination through online may face severe effects without the Internet.
“There is no doubt that Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution of India gives certain rights to the citizens, but the said right is subject to Article 19 (2) which imposes some restriction.
“It would be proper on our part to ask the authority as to whether the Internet can be restored in the state of Manipur keeping balance between the security of the state and the interest of the citizens/people, including the student and elderly people,” the order added.
Amid continuing sporadic incidents of violence, the Manipur government on June 5 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 the fresh notification of extending the suspension of Internet services, 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 had 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 37 days across the mountainous state further added to the miseries of the people.