Manipur HC asks state govt to lift mobile internet ban in unaffected areas

Imphal: The Manipur High Court directed the state government to operationalise mobile towers, on a trial basis, in those district headquarters which have not been affected by ethnic violence, court sources said on Tuesday.

A division bench of Chief Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Golmei Gaiphulshillu Kabui directed the Manipur government to open and operationalise mobile towers, on a trial basis, in all those district headquarters which have not been affected by violence and thereafter, if found feasible, extend the services to other areas where the law and order situation, so permits.

The order comes after a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Aribam Dhananjoy Sharma and others.

The High Court also directed the state government to upload on its official website copies of all the orders issued in connection with the suspension or curbing of mobile internet data services.

The next hearing of the PIL has been scheduled for November 9.

As preventive measures and to curb spread of harmful messages, photos, and videos by anti-social elements, Manipur Commissioner, Home, T. Ranjit Singh on Sunday extended the mobile internet ban till November 8.

The Home Department extended the mobile Internet ban thrice in less than two weeks after Chief Minister N. Biren Singh recently had indicated that the government would consider withdrawing the ban within the next few days.

In view of last month’s massive students’ agitation, the Manipur government on September 26, two days after the ban was lifted after 143 days, again suspended mobile Internet data services, internet/data services and after each five days, the ban had been extended.

After the devastating ethnic violence broke out between the Meitei and tribal Kuki communities on May 3, mobile internet was banned in the entire northeastern state. After the situation was largely normalised, the ban was lifted on September 23, but it had to be imposed again on September 26 after hundreds of students clashed with security forces following images of the bodies of two young missing students, including a girl, circulating on the social media.

The All Naga Students’ Association Manipur often blockades the highways protesting against the extension of the internet ban in hill districts not affected by the ethnic violence. The blockade has affected supply of essential commodities in a number of places in Manipur.



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