Imphal: The Manipur government has suspended internet services for five days across the state and also imposed curfew in a few districts to curb the rising communal tension following a public rally organised by ATSUM against the demand for inclusion of Metei/Meetei in the Scheduled Tribe category on Wednesday.
As per the order issued by Commissioner (Home) H. Gyan Prakash, some anti-social elements are trying to incite public anger by transmitting images, hate speech, and hate video messages on social media.
It further said a protest rally in all hill districts was held from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday by the All Tribal Student Union, Manipur (ATSUM). During the rally and total shutdown, there are reports of incidents like fighting amongst volunteers/youths of different communities, and the situation is tense and volatile in the districts of Bishnupur and Churachandpur.
“To thwart the design and activities of anti-national and anti-social elements, to maintain peace and communal harmony, and to prevent any loss of life or danger to public/private property…the government has ordered the suspension/curbing of mobile data services in the territorial jurisdiction of the state of Manipur,” the order said.
“The suspension shall be in force for the next five days with immediate effect from the time this suspension order becomes operational,” it added.
The present flashpoint was triggered following the directive of the Manipur High Court to the state government to consider the request for the community’s inclusion within four weeks and send a recommendation to the Union government for its consideration.
The Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee of Manipur and other like-minded Meitei bodies have been demanding and urging the state government for the last 10 years to include the community in the Scheduled Tribe category to protect their ancestral lands, traditions, culture, language, and identity.
However, some tribal bodies, including ATSUM, are vehemently opposing the demands, saying that Meiteis are a comparatively advanced community and do not merit inclusion as a scheduled tribe.