Manipur’s digital dilemma: Internet shutdown extends amidst clashes

The Manipur government has prolonged the suspension of internet services in Churachandpur district for an additional five days, citing concerns over the prevailing law and order situation. This decision follows a wave of violence triggered by protests against the suspension of a head constable, resulting in two fatalities and injuries to 30 individuals during clashes with security forces on February 15.

The turmoil erupted when a mob stormed a government complex housing the offices of the superintendent of police and deputy commissioner, setting vehicles ablaze and causing extensive property damage. The incident was sparked by the suspension of the head constable, who was captured in a video alongside armed individuals, prompting allegations of unfair treatment by protesters demanding his reinstatement.

A directive issued by Chief Secretary Vineet Joshi emphasised the continuation of internet service suspension and services via VPN throughout Churachandpur district’s entire revenue jurisdiction. Mobile service providers have been instructed to adhere to the government’s order, which was first imposed on February 16 amidst escalating tensions.

This extension underscores a recurring pattern of digital blackout in Manipur, where internet shutdowns have become increasingly frequent. Since May 3, 2023, a state-wide internet suspension has persisted, initially scheduled until October 11, 2023. However, successive extensions have prolonged the blackout, raising concerns regarding its impact on fundamental rights, information dissemination, and essential services.

Read also: Internet shutdown in Manipur continues, stoking concerns over freedom

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