Manipur: Govt partially lifts internet ban after 83 days, mobile net remains snapped

After 83 days of incessant internet shutdowns, the Manipur Home Department in an order today allowed conditional relief to the public. The authorities has partially lifted the ban on broadband services, but mobile internet remains suspended.

The government said it considered the suffering of the common man as the internet ban had affected important offices, institutions, health facilities, and people working from home.

Citizens of Manipur can now access internet services through the Internet Lease Line (ILL) and Fibre To The Home (FTTH). However, they can only access the connection through static IP, and they cannot use wifi and hotspot services. Any existing VPN softwares or new VPNs must be removed from the system, said the government order.

In the event of any violation, subscribers will be liable to be punished as per the provisions of relevant laws of the land, the circular said.

The state government claimed that it has decided to keep mobile internet services suspended because it is not technically feasible to have effective control and regulatory mechanisms for mobile data services. There are also apprehensions that the spread of disinformation and false rumors through social media platforms could cause loss of life and property, it said.

Mobile internet services were banned on May 3 and broadband services the next day after ethnic clashes between two communities–Meitei and Kuki–flared in the state, which killed over 140 people, mostly Kukis, and thousands displaced.

“The Order also has no end date, a clear violation of the principle established in Anuradha Bhasin v UoI, which stated that an order suspending internet services indefinitely is impermissible under the Suspension Rules,” alleged SFLC, a group advocating digital freedom in India.