TODAY -

Govt sticks to internet ban as gunfights continue unabated
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: June 22, 2023 -



BASED on a slew of petitions filed by concerned stakeholders and in consideration of the hardships being faced by the public, the High Court of Manipur directed the state authorities to provide limited internet service subject to control of the state authorities.

The directive was issued a day after the government extended the ban till June 25 on the ground that preventing the spread of rumours and videos, photos and messages would help in bringing improvement to the law and order situation.

Nevertheless, despite periodical extension of the ban since May 3 night, there has been incidents of violence thereby underscoring that the governmentís initiative hasnít been able to contain the armed miscreants, who continue to carry out attacks at will.

Amid the on-going efforts to stabilise the situation, suspected Kuki militants have been adopting aggressive tactics, probably to drive home the message that they have taken firm resolve to sustain the armed campaign till realisation of the goal of separate administration as raised by the 10 Kuki MLAs or insistence by handful of Kuki civil organisations to impose Presidentís Rule and resignation of chief minister N Biren.

Taking into account of the on-going violent incidents one could safely assert that the suspension of internet service is only affecting the commoners, including the student community, traders and small-time businesses.

The students in particular are the worst-hit section of the society as many rely heavily on internet service to prepare for competitive examinations or access vital information related to admission in higher institutions of their choice.

While special arrangement made by technical institutions in the state to aid the students in various aspects is able to mitigate inconveniences faced by the students the ban is also affecting the public from carrying out their urgent and essential services.

Thus, apart from adding to miseries of the people, the suspension of internet service for over 50 days across the state hasnít been able to contain the ethnic violence as is evident from gunfights occurring intermittently.

The governmentís decision to deny the general population have access to the internet is paying off to some extent as the social media users ceased commenting disparagingly.

Though key board warriors, most probably from outside the state, continue to fuel the propaganda machinery and post vitriolic comments aimed at inciting the public, the violent incidents occurring in Manipur during the internet suspension period have little or nothing to do with the social media posts but execution of the plan to create chaos.

Taking note of the disturbances caused to banking and online facilities in the state, which is also facing shortage of various essentials, transport fuel, cooking gas and life-saving drugs, the interim order of the High Court on Tuesday directed the government to provide limited internet services to the public in some designated places under the control of the government authorities.

While there is strong possibility of the government sticking to its decision, the petitioners as well as the public would be hoping that the High Courtís directive will prod the government to explore other options available and realise that the armed attacks wouldnít cease due to the internet ban.



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