In a bid to maintain law and order and prevent the spread of misinformation and hate speech, the government of Manipur has extended the suspension of mobile internet and data services, as well as internet and data services through VPN, in the state. The decision, which was announced through an official order, comes as a response to the recent surge in violence in certain parts of the state.
The initial suspension of internet services was put into effect on September 26, 2023, and subsequently extended. As of today, the ban on these services remains in force until November 8, 2023.
The official statement from the Manipur Home Department cited concerns about the potential misuse of social media platforms to propagate images, hate speech, and videos that could incite public passions, further destabilizing the already tense law-and-order situation in Manipur. Additionally, the government expressed apprehension about the risk of loss of life and property damage, as well as the potential for disturbances to public tranquility and communal harmony due to the dissemination of inflammatory material and false rumors through social media and messaging services.
The government invoked Rule 2 of the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017, to justify the continuation of the internet suspension. This decision, officials argued, was made in the interest of public safety and to avoid any serious disruptions to public order in the state.
The extension of the internet ban is set to last for an additional three days, beginning immediately and lasting until 07:45 P.M. on November 8, 2023. During this period, the state government plans to explore the possibility of reopening mobile towers in district headquarters that have not experienced violence during the current law-and-order crisis. If this trial proves successful, the same approach may be applied to other areas where the situation has improved.
This order has been issued as an emergency measure, and the government has pledged to keep the public informed through both press and electronic media. Furthermore, individuals found guilty of violating these orders will be subject to legal action.
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