1. Manipur’s Transport Minister has announced the imminent restoration of internet services in four districts: Ukhrul, Chandel, Tamenglong, and Senapati.
2. Mobile internet services will be reinstated in these districts.
3. These districts have remained relatively unaffected by the ethnic violence that has gripped other parts of Manipur for several months.
Imphal, Nov 08: Khashim Vashum, the Transport Minister of Manipur, has announced that internet services will soon be restored in four districts of the state: Ukhrul, Chandel, Tamenglong, and Senapati. Speaking at an event in Ukhrul, Minister Vashum revealed that mobile internet services would resume in Chandel, Tamenglong, Ukhrul, and Senapati, with the government planning to deploy mobile towers on a trial basis in the headquarters of these districts.
These four districts have a majority Naga population and have remained relatively unaffected by the ethnic violence that has plagued other parts of Manipur for several months.
The minister’s statement follows a directive from a division bench of the Manipur High Court, which ordered the state government to restore internet services in areas that have remained peaceful during the Meitei-Kuki ethnic violence of the past six months. However, no specific date has been provided for when internet services will be reinstated or in which areas.
The court’s order, issued by Chief Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Golmei Gaiphulshillu Kabui, also instructed the state to publish copies of all orders related to the suspension or restriction of mobile internet data services on its official website. The next hearing to ensure compliance with these directives is scheduled for November 9.
The internet ban, which had been extended by the Manipur government until November 8, is set to expire today. Mobile internet had been banned in Manipur since May 3, with only a brief respite in September.
This recent decision comes after an incident in which a mob attacked a camp of the 1 Manipur Rifles in an attempt to loot its armory. This prompted security personnel to fire warning shots into the air.
The extension of the internet ban was based on concerns that anti-social elements might exploit social media to spread images, hate speeches, and incendiary video messages, potentially inciting public unrest and impacting the state’s law and order situation.
Tensions have affected ten districts in Manipur, with broadband services partially restored in mid-July after a two-month ban starting on May 4. The region has experienced recurrent bouts of violence since ethnic clashes first erupted in May, resulting in more than 180 casualties.
The conflict has been fueled by a range of grievances, including a controversial move to grant Meiteis Scheduled Tribe status (which was later rescinded) and attempts to displace tribals residing in protected forest areas.
Meiteis, representing 53% of Manipur’s population, primarily inhabit the Imphal Valley, while tribals, including Nagas and Kukis, make up 40% of the population and reside predominantly in the hill districts.