Mobile internet services were suspended in Manipur on Friday, 21 September and will continue for six days until Wednesday, 26 September. MediaNama’s sources have notified us of a notice printed in The Sangai Express, the Imphal-based daily, which says – “Taking the present law and order situation into consideration, the state government has banned all mobile internet connections in the state with effect from September 21 to September 26.”

The Sangai Express, September 22, 2018

In July this year, the internet was banned for five days after widespread protests by Manipur University Students’ Union demanding the removal of MU vice-chancellor Adya Prasad Pandey alleging his involvement in financial irregularities and administrative mismanagement since his appointment in 2016.

The current internet shutdown has happened after 90 students and 5 professors were detained by the police on the MU campus, per Indian Express. The arrests came 3 days after Pandey was suspended till a probe of his involvement in the alleged administrative and financial irregularities was completed.

 This is fourth time (the we know of) that internet has been shutdown in the entire state. 

  • Internet ban for five days in July following protests by MUSU demanding removal of the VC. At the time, residents of hill district Kangpokpi have spoke up against the state-wide shutdown.
  • In December 2016, the district magistrate of East and West Imphal, had issued an order to suspend mobile Internet services due to keep the law and order situation under control over economic blockade imposed by the United Naga Council.
  • After violence in Churachandpur district, internet was banned in the entire state starting September 2, 2015.

Babloo Loitongbam, a prominent Manipuri activist and Executive Director of Human Rights Alert, told Scroll that although accessing the internet was a problem due to connectivity issues,  sometimes it was deliberate. “It’s done quietly and nobody knows. People think that it’s just a technical glitch but [it seems to be] blocked when the government wants to restrict information,” he told the publication.

113 shutdowns in 9 months in India

There have been over 100 internet shutdowns in the country as of 9 months into 2018. The highest number of shutdowns (38%) are in Jammu & Kashmir this year. Since 2012, the state has accounted for nearly 78% of all internet shutdowns.

Note that known shutdowns are those reported in the news, it possible that there have been shutdowns which did not become public knowledge. 

Read ground reportage on Internet shutdowns here.

Read MediaNama’s coverage from the open house discussion on Internet shutdowns here: