Imphal, May 22: The Manipur government has extended the suspension of mobile data and broadband services across the state for five more days till 26 May 2023. The decision aims to curb the spread of rumors and hate speeches, particularly in light of recurring incidents like house arson.
The order, issued by the Manipur Home Department, expresses concerns about the potential misuse of social media platforms to incite public unrest and disrupt the law and order situation.
The primary reason behind the extension is the apprehension that anti-social elements might extensively use social media for transmitting hate speech, provocative images, and videos, which can incite public passion and have serious repercussions for the state’s peace and harmony.
The government fears the immediate danger of loss of life, damage to public and private property, and widespread disturbances to public tranquility and communal harmony due to inflammatory material and false rumors.
The suspension is seen as a necessary measure to thwart the activities of anti-national and anti-social elements. The order specifically targets various social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, as well as electronic devices like tablets, computers, and mobile phones. Bulk SMS messages are also included to prevent the mobilization of agitators and demonstrators who could engage in violent activities such as arson and vandalism.
The suspension, which became effective immediately, will remain in force for another five days until 3:00 pm on May 26, 2023. This decision follows ethnic clashes that have rocked the hill state since May 3, 2023, resulting in a significant loss of life, injuries, and displacement of thousands of people.
In contrast, the opposition Congress party criticized the ruling BJP-led governments for the situation in the state.
Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh expressed concerns on Twitter, citing the extended internet ban’s adverse impact on essential services.
He questioned the absence of any appeal for peace from the Prime Minister and the lack of visits by top government officials to Manipur. The opposition continued to hold the ruling governments responsible, raising doubts about their response to the unrest.
15 days since the horrific violence erupted in Manipur and internet was banned.
Yesterday, the ban was extended for another 5 days.
Banking, e-commerce, payments of e-bills, e-tickets, businesses, work from home, education, and many other essential services have come to a…
— Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) May 18, 2023
Addressing the situation, Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh called for peace during a program on Anti-Terrorism Day. He urged the people not to blame specific communities but to hold the government accountable for resolving the issues.
The Chief Minister assured the public that efforts are underway to restore peace and normalcy, emphasizing the importance of unity among the diverse communities in Manipur.
The opposition Congress party has criticized the ruling BJP-led governments, pointing out the impact of the internet ban on essential services and questioning the lack of official statements or visits by central government officials.
As the government continues its efforts, it faces the challenge of maintaining law and order while ensuring access to essential services. Effective communication, accountability, and fostering unity among communities will be crucial for achieving long-term peace and stability in Manipur.
Meanwhile, Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh, addressing the law and order situation following the recent unrest, called for peace during an event on Anti-Terrorism Day in Imphal. He urged the people of Manipur to refrain from blaming communities and instead hold the government accountable for any issues.
Chief Minister Singh emphasized the government’s commitment to rectifying problems and restoring peace, highlighting the need to foster unity and camaraderie among the diverse communities residing in Manipur.