Net ban extended, many decry ban
IMPHAL, Nov 13: Banning mobile internet service will not bring any solution to the present crisis, and it has no impact whatsoever on the course and nature of the conflict, said several student bodies urging the State Government to restore the service all over Manipur.
On the other hand, the Government has extended the ban on mobile internet service which was due to expire today. The ban has been extended for 5 more days till 7.45 pm of November 18.
Mobile internet service has been banned since May 3 with hardly two days of respite in September.
The mobile internet service was lifted on September 23 and it was banned again after photographs of bodies of two missing students [Hijam Linthoingambi and Phijam Hemanjit] lying on the ground in captivity of armed Kuki men emerged on social media on September 25.
Meanwhile, the student bodies said that the mobile internet ban has curtailed the rights of the people and the State Government should review the relevance of the ban at present and the impact it has had on the people, businesses, education and the economy.
The student bodies which have made the appeal to restore the service include a group of six student bodies and the Tangkhul Naga Valley Students' Association.
The six student bodies include Manipuri Students' Federation (MSF), Democratic Students' Alliance of Manipur (DESAM), Kangleipak Students' Association (KSA), Students' Union of Kangleipak (SUK) and Apunba Ireipakki Maheiroi Sinpang Lup (AIMS).
In a joint statement, the six student bodies said the mobile internet ban has adversely affected all spheres of life of the people including the students. People's businesses and economy have been impacted, and students are unable to access education online.
While all the citizens deserve to be treated equally and given the same rights, the selective ban of the mobile internet service has affected the majority of the people of the State who can't afford broadband connections. This has widened the gap between the rich and poor. The prolonged mobile internet ban has curtailed the rights of the poor citizens, said the student bodies.
Mobile internet service has been banned since May for months, but it has not solved the crisis. It has not changed the course of the conflict. How long until the crisis is solved, the Government is planning to continue the mobile internet ban ? asked the student bodies.
Prolonging the mobile internet ban will slow down Manipur's development. The service should be restored considering the hardship people are facing, they said.
In a separate statement, the Tangkhul Naga Valley Students' Association said the internet ban is unfair.
Around 60-70 percent of the population in Imphal and Churachandpur alike are enjoying internet facilities. However, Tangkhul villages in the foothill areas where there has been no violence are deprived of mobile internet service even as the service has been restored in district Headquarters like Ukhrul, Senapati and Tamenglong etc, said the student body.
Moreover, while there is a ban on the mobile internet service in Manipur, people living outside the State are still using social media as a weapon for spreading propaganda, communally charged messages including videos as usual, it added.
Banning the internet service will not bring a solution to the crisis. On the contrary, it is a blunder on the part of the State Government that would invite public wrath and agitations.
The Government needs to think logically and study whether the mobile internet ban is still relevant and further imposing the ban in places where there is no crisis is rational. It should lift the ban and also install Wi-Fi internet services in each and every corner of the State, said the Tangkhul Naga Valley Students' Association (TNVSA).
TNVSA is an apex student body of people living in the foothill areas of Ukhrul, Kamjong and Senapati district.