Manipur violence: Manipur chief minister N Biren Singh on Saturday announced that the internet ban will be lifted in the state from today (September 23), nearly five months after they were snapped after ethnic violence erupted in the northeastern state on May 3.
Addressing a press conference here, Singh said, "The government had suspended mobile internet services on May 3 to check the spread of fake news, propaganda and hate speech. However, with the improvement of the situation, mobile internet services will be restored across the state from today."
Earlier on July 25, the government had ordered to resume broadband internet services in Manipur to function with certain conditions.
The Chief Minister also called for the discontinuation of the free movement agreement, which currently permits individuals living in close to both sides of the India-Myanmar border to travel up to 16 km into each other's territory without the requirement of any documentation. He said the government will continue to deal with the influx of "illegal immigrants" and stressed the need for fencing the India-Myanmar border.
Surrender illegal weapons within 15 days
The announcement to fully restore internet services comes a day after the government asked the people of the state to surrender all illegal weapons within a period of 15 days or face comprehensive search operations by security forces.
In a press release issued on Friday evening, "The state government is willing to take a considerate view of the persons submitting such illegal weapons within these 15 days. At the end of these 15 days, central and state security forces will undertake strong and comprehensive search operations all over the state to recover such weapons, and all persons associated with illegal weapons will be dealt with severely, as per the law."
"There have been reports of extortion, threats and abduction by miscreants using these illegal weapons. This is a serious matter and state government will take strong actions against such groups in any part of the state," the statement said. The government also appealed to people to cooperate with the Centre and state governments in restoring peace and normalcy.
Clashes first broke out in the northeastern state on May 3 after a 'Tribal Solidarity March' was organised in the hill districts to protest against the Meitei community's demand for Scheduled Tribes (ST) status. Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipur's population and live mostly in the Imphal Valley. Tribals Nagas and Kukis constitute another 40 per cent of the population and reside in the hill districts.
More than 175 people have been killed and several hundreds injured since ethnic violence broke out in Manipur.
(With agencies input)