Mobile internet services restored in Manipur after over 4 months

Representational image: PTI

Imphal: Mobile internet services, which were suspended as ethnic violence erupted in Manipur in early May, were restored after over four months from Saturday.

The services resumed hours after Chief Minister N Biren Singh made an announcement in this regard in the morning.

He also called for the cancellation of the free movement regime that allows people residing close to both sides of the India-Myanmar border to venture 16 km deep into each other's territory without any document.

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."

The services were restored from around 3 pm, an official said.

The chief minister said the government will continue to deal with the influx of "illegal immigrants" and stressed the need for complete fencing of the India-Myanmar border.

"The Union Home Ministry has taken steps to fence 60 km of the international border in Manipur," he said.

The CM claimed that the present situation was a result of unplanned policies of the previous governments and not an immediate aftermath of any recent decision.

"Our government has requested the Union Home Ministry to cancel the free movement regime. Also, security forces have not properly guarded the border. Instead of being deployed at zero point, they were found guarding the border 14-15 km inside Indian territory," he claimed.

The CM also came out strongly against the bandh culture and incidents of "rampant verbal abuse against MLAs, ministers and police officials, which has diverted people from real issues and created conflict among ourselves".

"Over the last two months, the situation has improved and the frequency of firing incidents has come down with the deployment of security forces in vulnerable areas," he said.

Singh claimed that a countrywide survey has found a rise in drug and substance abuse among youths of the state, which was the reason why his government launched a 'war on drugs' in 2018.

"This will continue... it will be carried out more strongly to destroy poppy plantations in the hills," he said.

Singh said that incidents of extortion, kidnappings and perpetrating other crimes by miscreants impersonating policemen have increased.

"We have to stay focused on real issues in the state, namely dealing with influx of illegal immigrants, taking up welfare activities for internally displaced people and fighting massive poppy cultivation," he said.

"With the objective of establishing the rule of law in Churachandpur, Kangpokpi, Moreh and Imphal, our government is taking up multiple initiatives," Singh added.

More than 175 people have been killed and several hundred injured since ethnic violence broke out in Manipur on May 3, when a 'Tribal Solidarity March' was organised in the hill districts to protest against the majority Meitei community's demand for Scheduled Tribe status.

Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipur's population and live mostly in the Imphal valley, while tribals, including Nagas and Kukis, constitute 40 per cent and reside mostly in the hill districts.

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