Internet ban in manipur: On May 4, 2023, an instance of sexual violence occurred in Manipur, which was captured on film and outraged the entire nation. On the same day, the Manipur government’s Home Department ordered a total internet blackout in the state. This was an extension of the May 3 injunction prohibiting the use of mobile internet. Following the entire internet shutdown in Manipur on May 4, the nation went undiscovered for more than 70 days. The internet prohibition was a major factor in the national apathy about Manipur.
On July 19, a video of the incident went viral on social media, just days after the Manipur High Court allowed a very limited restoration of internet services in the state following a lengthy court process. Three applications were submitted in the Supreme Court, one after the other, challenging the internet shutdown in Manipur, but the country’s top court refused to intervene on all three instances. Finally, when the video of the incident with two ladies became viral on July 20, the Supreme Court took notice.
Asmat was looted then the silence was broken, who made Manipur a volcano? read inside story
The viral video has had a huge impact on numerous levels, with high-ranking elected officials in state and federal governments pledging harsh measures to catch them. While this is unfortunate, it is also true that it is only possible because of the internet, which has sparked a debate and disseminated really upsetting photographs and videos of violence. One must naturally consider how rumors incited a mob to commit atrocities against women. The directions for a partial internet shutdown on May 3 and 4 stated that it was necessary to quell rumors.
The directive, dated May 3, stated that it aimed to “frustrate the conspiracies and activities of anti-national and anti-social elements by halting the dissemination of misinformation and false rumors through various social media platforms.” When the incident occurred, internet services in Manipur were suspended. As a result, the ability to fact-check any information and determine whether it is correct or incorrect became severely limited. In truth, there is no research or empirical proof that internet shutdowns are an effective countermeasure to rumor dissemination. Nonetheless, governments in India frequently suspend internet connections at the first sign of turmoil, even to quash nonviolent protests. Governments claim to have taken precautions to prevent the spread of “misinformation and rumors.”
Internet ban in manipur reason:
In contrast, studies by scholars such as Jan Rydzak have found that internet shutdowns are ineffective in quelling unrest, instead often encouraging violent forms of collective action that require limited connectivity and coordination. A joint report released in June 2023 by Human Rights Watch and the Internet Freedom Foundation, authored by Jayshree Bajoria, found that among those most affected by internet shutdowns are the country’s marginalized populations who rely on government schemes and social protection measures. This is especially so as internet access has become essential in Digital India to access welfare schemes such as Right to Work Guarantee (MGNREGA), Public Food Distribution System (PWS) and e-governance in rural areas.
Manipuri living in Delhi scared after video, police issued alert
For similar reasons, the Supreme Court held in 2020 that the freedom of speech and expression, the freedom to carry on one’s profession through the medium of the Internet, enjoys constitutional protection under Article 19(1)(a) and Article 19(1)(g). Then the Supreme Court had said that any restriction on such fundamental rights should be in accordance with the Constitution. The Supreme Court had clearly said that shutting down the internet indefinitely is illegal and unconstitutional. Nevertheless, the Manipur government shut down the Internet, first for five days each and then indefinitely from 3 May. Its direct impact has been on education, health services and journalism.
The Chief Minister of Manipur showed amazing honesty in a TV interview that there have been hundreds of such incidents in the last 70 days, and that is why the internet has been banned. But the pictures related to the May 4 incident are proof in itself that the Manipur government is failing to stop rumors and violent incidents even after banning the internet. It is clear that the state authorities are finding a way to escape accountability due to the great difficulty in sharing information about what is going on in Manipur.
Law and order situation in Manipur has not improved even after 70 days of internet shutdown. Instead hundreds of heinous cases have been suppressed due to internet ban. The victims of the ghastly incident of May 4 have alleged police complicity. Until his video went viral, none of the accused in the case had been arrested.
Be clear government
Despite what is written in law and the Constitution of India, despite what the Supreme Court has said, and despite what is clear from the language used in the internet shutdown orders, internet blackouts are not ordered for the security of the state or the security of the people. Internet service has been suspended in Manipur for more than two months for the security of the government.