Mao and Tangkhul Students’ Unions condemn blanket internet shutdown

File photo of public and students protests and agitation in Imphal Valley.

Ukhrul: The Tangkhul Katamnao Saklong (Tangkhul Students’ Union), the apex students’ Union of the Tangkhul tribe in Manipur has vehemently condemned the suspension of internet data services again, and the closure of schools in Manipur State demanding the immediate resumption of internet services, saying that it has severely hampered the student community and public in general.

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TKS said the snapping of internet services is denying the citizens its basic rights enshrined under the Constitution of India.

The Saklong has also strongly condemned the directive of the Education-S, GoM stating that the students education must not be jeopardized in the conflict. “Therefore, the Saklong demand immediate resumption of internet services and immediate withdrawal of the directive order declared from the Secretariat: Education (S) Department, Govt. of Manipur,” the Saklong statement said.

Related | Tangkhul Katamnao Saklong Condemns Prolonged Internet Ban; Demands Immediate Restoration In Ukhrul Dist

Meanwhile, the Mao Students’ Union (MSU) has strongly criticized the State government’s decision to enforce a blanket ban on internet data services, including the use of virtual private networks (VPNs), throughout the State. The protracted internet shutdown, which has endured for more than five months, has had severe repercussions on the people of Manipur, who have increasingly come to rely on internet connectivity for education, social interaction, and economic livelihoods, said MSU.

Moreover, the MSU stated that the internet blackout has not only frustrated neutral citizens but also carries the risk of further exacerbating anger and reactions, not just within the neutral community, but also among the conflicting communities who are already grappling with the crisis.

Also read | Protests intensify in Imphal over killing of 2 students

The Mao students’ Union also has taken a firm stance against the violence and rampant human rights abuses that have gripped the region. The international community has also expressed its condemnation of the ongoing brutality. MSU has vehemently denounced the erosion of law and order in the State, which has given way to a disturbing culture of mob justice and vigilantism. While acknowledging the tragic loss of lives and property, the MSU implores both Meitei and Kuki-Zo to exercise restraint, with the hope of facilitating the return of peace and normalcy to Manipur.

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It is worth noting that the hill Districts of Manipur, apart from Churachandpur and Kangpokpi Districts which have been the epicenter of the conflict in the hills, are largely unaffected by the ongoing ethnic conflict that has gripped the State for over five months now. Hill Districts in Manipur such as Senapati, Tamenglong, Noney, Ukhrul, Kamgjong, Chandel, Tengnoupal, Jiribam largely remain peaceful and unaffected in the ethnic violence which erupted on May 3, 2023.

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The current protests and agitations seen in the last few days, before the snapping of the internet ban again, and closure of schools are all centered around Imphal valley Districts – Imphal West, Imphal East, Bishnupur, Thoubal, and Kackching.

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It may also be added that the demand for a Separate Administration by the Kuki-Zo tribals in Manipur has also become a contentious issue pulling in the Naga tribals [the only neutral party], the second largest community in the State. The United Naga Council stated in one of its press statement recently that, “With regard to land, the Nagas’ opposition to the creation of new districts in 2016 remains alive as unfinished issue. Of the districts, ones carved out from Senapati and Chandel districts are the handiworks of the Congress government’s appeasement policy carried out in the name of administrative convenience. Hence the demand of separate administration which incorporates the so-called new two districts is necessarily opposed. The Nagas’ stand on the opposition remains unchanged.”

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