New Delhi, Jul 25 (EFE).- The government of India’s northeastern state of Manipur on Tuesday partially lifted an internet blockade in place for over two months due to a wave of ethnic violence in which nearly 150 people have been killed.
The commissioner (home) for Manipur, T Ranjit Singh, said in an order cited by local media that state authorities have decided to lift the suspension of broadband internet in a conditional manner.
However, mobile phone internet as well as use of social media and virtual private networks (VPNs) will continue to be blocked.
Authorities justified the restrictions by insisting that internet and social media and facilitated the gathering of mobs and protesters that could cause deaths and damage infrastructure, after repeated such incidents since May.
However, the executive director of the Internet Freedom Foundation, Apar Gupta, said that the partial lifting of restrictions in the state would only benefit an insignificant number of people.
“It is my firm belief the internet shutdown is to serve State interests in avoiding accountability and contouring the media ecology than any evidentiary law and order objective,” Gupta tweeted.
The regional government had completely suspended internet access in Manipur on May 3, when violence broke out between the minority Kuki tribal community and the Meitei majority, over the latter’s demand to be included in the list of disadvantaged “scheduled” tribes in order to gain access to quotas in education and government jobs.
Weeks of ethnic conflict hve left at least 142 dead while over 50,000 people have been forced to flee their homes as per government data.
Last week the footage of two Kuki women forced to parade naked and molested among dozens of armed men in a rural area of Manipur’s Thoubal district had triggered countrywide outrage.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had condemned the incident, but his earlier silence on the violence that has rocked Manipur – where his Bharatiya Janata Party heads the regional government – has been widely criticized by the opposition, which has been demanding the government’s explanation over the conflict in the parliament. EFE