As Manipur faces a blanket ban on mobile data and internet services, following the incident of arson in Bishnupur district, Assam Congress’s Member of Parliament Pradyut Bordoloi raised the issue with the Union minister.
The prohibition orders were imposed to quell possible communal tension in the state.
Meanwhile, the All Tribal Students’ Union Manipur (ATSUM) has announced an indefinite economic blockade since Friday, leaving hundreds of heavy vehicles ferrying essential commodities stranded on NH-2 in Kangpokpi district.
Bordoloi wrote to Minister for Communications, Electronics & Information Technology and Railways Ashwini Vaishnaw questioning the rising incidence of internet shutdowns in India.
“In light of the recent suspension of internet services in Manipur, and the larger trend of internet shutdowns in the country, I have written to the Hon’ble Minister for Communications Ashwini Vaishnaw raising this issue & seeking his intervention,” he tweeted.
In light of the recent suspension of internet services in Manipur, and the larger trend of internet shutdowns in the country, I have written to the Hon'ble Minister for Communications @AshwiniVaishnaw raising this issue & seeking his intervention 👇@INCNEIndia @internetfreedom pic.twitter.com/RZJExNcRFD
— Pradyut Bordoloi (@pradyutbordoloi) August 8, 2022
The letter to the Union Minister reads: “I am directed to learn that India recorded the world’s highest number of internet shutdowns for the fourth straight year in 2021, as per an independent study by Access Now. Out of 182 shutdowns globally in 2021, India alone accounted for 106. As per the report, Myanmar with the second highest frequency of shutdowns in 2021 saw 15 disruptions, followed by Sudan and Iran with 5 shutdowns each…”
“The rise in internet shutdown has been struck under the NDA government, with an independent study by the Software Freedom Law Centre reporting that while India saw only 6 shutdowns in 2014; the number rose to over 100-mark each year after 2018.
Border regions like Jammu and Kashmir and Northeastern states have been particularly susceptible to such blackouts, most recently with a 5-day suspension of mobile services in Manipur…”
The most recent internet shutdown was ordered after the Army’s botched operation in Mon district of Nagaland, where 14 locals were killed in December 2021.
Mobile data services suspended in the entire state of Manipur for 5 days after one van was reportedly set ablaze by 3/4 youths suspected to be of a community, in Bishnupur. The crime has created tense communal situation & volatile law & order situation in the state: Manipur Govt pic.twitter.com/4NoY1bQKVH
— ANI (@ANI) August 7, 2022
Curfew was imposed in Shillong and mobile internet stopped in at least four districts of Meghalaya in August 2021, amid vandalism and arson over the police encounter of a top militant leader, who had surrendered.
Curfews and internet bans were imposed in Guwahati on the evening of December 11, 2019. The curfew was later extended to many parts of Assam and the internet ban extended to the whole of Assam during the worst-ever agitation over CAA.
In Manipur, the ATSUM announced the economic blockade right after its extended total shutdown ended at 6 am on Friday. The economic blockade, according to the student body, will continue till their demands are met. The blockade has been supported by various tribal bodies in the hill districts.
In Kangpokpi district, several tribal bodies spearheaded by ATSUM’s unit, KSO Sadar Hills, enforced the economic blockade along the NH-2. As many as 80-90 trucks ferrying essential commodities were seen stranded along the NH-2 at Khullen village, while another 20-30 trucks were seen stranded at the old taxation check post at Hengbung village.
All Naga Students’ Association Manipur (ANSAM)’s general secretary AC Thotso said that the unwarranted locking of the ATSUM office by the ‘Meitei Leepun’ is unfortunate and a direct challenge to the tribals of Manipur.
Inputs from Ahanthem Bisworjit Meitei from Imphal