The Manipur Human Rights Commission (MHRC) has asked the State government to consider restoring internet services since ethnic violence broke out in Manipur on May 3, claiming more than 100 lives and displacing at least 35,000 people.
In an order on June 7, MHRC chairperson, Justice Utpalendu Bikash Saha and member K.K. Singh asked Manipur’s Commissioner (Home) to consider restoration of internet services for “providing benefit to the citizens” while “keeping balance the security of the State and right to freedom of expression”.
The order was based on a complaint from one Kammingthang Hangshing, a resident of Mizoram’s capital Aizawl against the suspension of internet services in the Churachandpur district of Manipur. He called the temporary internet ban a human rights violation.
“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 said in its order.
“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,” it said.
“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 balance between the security of the State and the interest of the citizen/people including the student and elderly people,” the order added.
The Manipur government extended the suspension of internet services on June 5 amid continuing incidents of violence. The suspension was till June 10 to “avert the spread of rumours and videos, photos, and messages, which might affect the law-and-order situation” in the ethnic violence-hit northeastern State.