Imphal: As a preventive measure to curb the spread of harmful messages, photos, and videos by anti-social elements, the Manipur government on Monday extended the ban on mobile internet service for another five days till November 18.
Mobile internet was first banned in the entire state 195 days ago after the ethnic violence broke out in Manipur on May 3. Since then the ban has been extended after every five days.
Manipur Commissioner (Home), T. Ranjit Singh, said in a notification on Monday that the 3 Director General of Police has said that there are reports of exchange of fire between two communities in the fringe areas of five districts including Bishnupur, Churachandpur, Imphal East and Imphal West.
Also, there are reports of public protests like total shutdown/bandh demanding the whereabouts of two missing youths, and the abduction of four individuals by unknown armed criminals.
“There is 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 Manipur,” Singh said in the notification.
It added: “There is an imminent danger of loss of life and/or damage to public/private property, and widespread disturbances to public tranquility and communal harmony, as a result of inflammatory material and false rumors, which might be transmitted/circulated to the public through social media/messaging on mobile services, SMS services, and dongle services.”
Last week, the Manipur government lifted the ban on mobile internet in four Naga tribal inhabited hill district headquarters, which have not been affected by the ethnic violence that has been going on in the state since May 3.
On a trial basis, the internet ban was withdrawn in the district headquarters of Ukhrul, Senapati, Chandel, and Tamenglong after the Manipur High Court on November 6 directed the state government to resume mobile internet services, on a trial basis, in all those district headquarters which have not been affected by the ethnic violence.
Given the state government’s steps to resume mobile internet service in four hill district headquarters, the All Naga Students Association, Manipur (ANSAM) announced on November 9 the withdrawal of the economic blockade from the highways.
The ANSAM in a statement had said that because of the dire hardship faced by the general public amid the ongoing conflict and following the assurance by the Convener of Naga Legislator Forum (NLF), Awangbow Newmai, to fulfill the two legitimate demands of the organization, the emergency meeting of ANSAM has resolved to temporarily suspend the ongoing economic blockade. Newmai is also a minister in the BJP-led Manipur government.
After the situation largely normalized, the internet ban was lifted on September 23, but it had to be imposed again on September 26 after hundreds of students clashed with security forces after images of the bodies of two missing students were circulated on social media.
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