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Mobile internet suspended in Manipur after riots

A van that was torched in Manipur on August 7, 2022 after a face-off between the police and tribal students opposing the tabling of the introduction of the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council sixth and seventh Amendment Bills in the Assembly. Photo: Special Arrangement

A van that was torched in Manipur on August 7, 2022 after a face-off between the police and tribal students opposing the tabling of the introduction of the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council sixth and seventh Amendment Bills in the Assembly. Photo: Special Arrangement

Amid protests by tribal students, the BJP-led government in Manipur suspended mobile Internet services for five days across the State from Sunday morning.

The authorities in Bishnupur and Churachandpur districts also clamped orders prohibiting the assembly of four or more people for two months.

In an order issued late on Saturday night, the State Home Department said mobile Internet services had to be suspended in view of some anti-social elements fanning communal passions and circulating hate speeches through social media platforms.

Some of the “objectionable” social media posts relate to the torching of two vehicles in two separate incidents on Saturday after the police caned tribal students protesting against the introduction of the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council sixth and seventh Amendment Bills in the Assembly on August 2.

Nearly 30 students were injured in the police action. The All Tribal Students’ Union Manipur (ATSUM) has been asking the 60-member House to table the Manipur Autonomous District Council (Amendment) Bill, 2021 to ensure that the tribal-inhabited hill areas get greater financial and administrative autonomy for development on a par with the valley areas dominated by non-tribal people.

Bills rejected

Rejecting the amendment Bills that “cannot fulfil tribal aspirations”, the ATSUM imposed an indefinite economic blockade along the National Highways in the hill districts from Friday morning.

The highways are the lifelines for the Imphal Valley, the central part of the State surrounded by the hills.

In retaliation, a valley-based organisation called Meitei Leepun locked the ATSUM’s office in Imphal. The police reopened the office on Friday evening.

On August 4, the police arrested five ATSUM leaders and charged them with conspiring to impose the blockade. They are now in judicial custody.

The ATSUM said the blockade would be lifted only if the State government concedes to its demands and changes its “step-motherly” attitude towards the tribals. “We will intensify our agitation,” ATSUM vice-president Vanlallian Khaute said.

Economic or highway blockades, aimed at choking supplies to the Imphal Valley, were a regular feature in Manipur. It made a comeback after 2017 when Nongthombam Biren Singh took charge as Chief Minister.


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Printable version | Aug 7, 2022 10:33:17 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/mobile-internet-suspended-for-5-days-in-manipur-amid-protests/article65740438.ece