Internet ban lifted in Indian state after 100 days

Lazy eyes listen


Internet access will be restored in Manipur, India’s northeastern state, nearly five months after it was halted after the commencement of an ethnic conflict in May.

The prohibition had been removed in part, but state Chief Minister N. Biren Singh stated on Saturday that the remaining services will be restored immediately. The internet has been suspended across the state, according to Singh, to “check the spread of fake news, propaganda, and hate speech.”

“However, with the improvement of the situation, mobile internet services will be restored across the state from today,” he added.

The announcement comes a day after the government ordered citizens to surrender guns stolen from police stations within 15 days, according to Indian media. Following that period, security personnel deployed in the state will conduct a “strong and comprehensive search operation to recover such weapons,” according to Singh, and anyone discovered in possession of illicit weaponry will face heavy penalties.

On May 3, ethnic violence erupted, affecting Manipur’s two largest communities: the Meitei, the majority of whom dwell in the Imphal Valley, and the Kuki tribal tribe from the surrounding hills. Around 200 people have died in the war, and hundreds have been forced to live in relief camps after their homes were destroyed. The violence began as a result of a ‘tribal’ uprising led by Kuki.

In an August interview with RT, the chief minister called for peace in the state, which he claimed might be achieved if the populations affected by the ongoing violence followed the road of “forgiving and forgetting.”

The state administration reinstated a blanket curfew in Imphal earlier this week. The action came after additional conflicts between police and protestors, who had turned to the streets after five people were arrested last week for “impersonating police” and carrying sophisticated weaponry suspected of being stolen from police armouries.

Manipur police have threatened “stern action” against anyone who has exploited uniforms for “ulterior motives,” and persons have been arrested as a result of “reports of extortion threats, misuse of police uniform, and impersonation by armed miscreants.”

According to the Hindustan Times, two of those arrested were affiliated to insurgency groups in the region. Locals say the men detained are ‘village defence volunteers’ or vigilantes who took up arms to safeguard their areas when ethnic conflicts erupted in Manipur.

Protests, skirmishes between citizens and police, and stone-pelting were recorded this week in a number of localities throughout Manipur’s six valley districts, which are primarily populated by the Meitei community. Protesters, largely women, attempted to attack multiple police stations.