An Internet ban will not restore peace in Manipur

Source: The post is based on the article “An Internet ban will not restore peace in Manipur” published in “The Hindu” on 22nd July 2023.

Syllabus: GS 3- Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges,

News: The Manipur government issued a blanket internet shutdown from May 3, 2023, to stop “disinformation and false rumors.

What are the critics for the internet shut down in Manipur?

Vague Justification: The shutdown orders used general terms like “thwarting anti-national activities” without specifying what these activities were. This left many uncertain about the exact reasons for the shutdown.

Lack of Concrete Evidence: The government didn’t provide actual incidents or data showing harm from internet usage. For example, no details were given on how online platforms contributed to violence or misinformation in the state.

How has the judiciary responded?

A case, Aribam Dhananjoy Sharma vs State of Manipur, challenges the shutdown orders.

The High Court of Manipur issued an order for partial restoration of the internet but clarity on the legal stance remains elusive.

The Supreme Court has so far avoided adjudicating on the shutdowns directly.

What are the implications of the internet shut down in Manipur?

Impact on Residents:

About 2.2 million internet users were affected by the shutdown.

Students in metropolitan cities ran out of money.

People couldn’t apply for assistance or move to relief camps.

Information Flow Disruption:

A blanket shutdown prevented news from Manipur reaching the broader Indian public.

The nation remained unaware of issues in Manipur until a video clip of sexual violence went viral.

Misinformation and Consequences:

Despite the shutdown, misinformation spread.

A press report connected misinformation to incidents of sexual violence against Kuki-Zo women.

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