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Manipur Human Rights Commission requests to government to restore Internet in Manipur

Internet services have been barred in state since violence broke out on May 3 after solidarity rally in 10 hill districts opposing demand of majority Meitei for inclusion in ST list

Umanand Jaiswal Guwahati Published 11.06.23, 04:50 AM
Locals at a medical camp organised by the Assam Rifles in Manipur

Locals at a medical camp organised by the Assam Rifles in Manipur PTI picture

The Manipur Human Rights Commission (MHRC) has asked the state government whether it could consider the restoration of internet services by “balancing” the state’s security requirement and the right to freedom of expression.

The observation was made on Wednesday by MHRC chairperson Justice U.B. Saha and member K.K. Singh in their three-page order while issuing notices to Manipur chief secretary and the home commissioner on a complaint petition filed by one Kammingthang Hangshing from Aizwal, Mizoram, seeking restoration of internet services.


Internet services have been barred in Manipur since the violence broke out on May 3 after a solidarity rally in 10 hill districts opposing the demand of the majority Meitei for inclusion in the ST list. Clashes between the Meiteis and Kukis have left over 100 dead and affected around 45,000 to date.

Complainant Hangshing had moved the MHRC on behalf of the people of Manipur’s Churachandpur district to “restore internet service which has been shut down for around two weeks in the district.” He had also claimed that though the incident (unrest) also took place in Imphal, the internet service was not shut down there.

Hangshing had stressed on the internet playing a “vital role” in day-to-day business. Since the area was shunned from the internet, many innocent people were suffering, he said, urging the authority to restore internet services as early as possible because the shutdown “is a violation of human rights.”

According to the government, the internet services had to be barred to ensure peace by preventing trouble and mischief mongers/ miscreants from misusing it to fan unrest.

In its three-page order, the MHRC also observed: “We are of the view that the internet plays a vital role in the modern day of life, more so when the young generation of the country who are working from home through the internet and also the students who would appear in the examination through online may face severe effect without internet.”

The MHRC added: “There is no doubt that Article 19 (1)(a) of the Constitution of India gives certain rights to the citizens, but the said right is subject to Article 19(2) which imposes some restriction ... As is known, the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution of India are non-absolute.”

The rights commission stated that it was “not in favour” of the internet shutdown because it “badly” affects not only students appearing in their examination through the online mode but also elderly persons depending on their children abroad and common citizens “dependent on the internet”. They are “not in the position to continue their respective works like banking, purchasing air ticket and train ticket etc., more so, the internet is nowadays one of the vital human rights for a decent livelihood.”

“It would be proper on our part to ask the authority as to whether the internet can be restored in the state of Manipur keeping (a) balance between the security of the state and the interest of the citizens/people, including the student and elderly people,” the MHRC order stated.

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