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Imphal, October 17, 2023 – The All Naga Students’ Association, Manipur (ANSAM) has expressed grave concern over the extended internet shutdown in the state, underscoring its detrimental effects on the socio-economic and educational aspects of life in the region. The government’s order, enacted on May 3, 2023, aimed at containing the dissemination of potentially inflammatory content amid ongoing violence, now marks its 158th day, raising questions about its continued justification.
Impact on Economy and Emergency Services
The internet, over the years, has become an essential part of everyday life, and its denial has far-reaching implications on the economic fabric of the state. The prolonged shutdown has hampered business transactions, disrupted communication channels crucial for emergency services, and added roadblocks in the digital journey of many enterprises.
Education Takes a Hit
The suspension has also severely impacted the educational sector, hindering access to online educational resources, which have become indispensable in the modern learning ecosystem. With the majority of the learning platforms operating online, the internet ban has deprived students and educators of essential educational materials, thus impeding the academic progress of the students in the state.
Healthcare Services Affected
Medical students and healthcare providers, too, have faced the brunt of this shutdown. Access to medical information, which is crucial for the timely and effective delivery of healthcare services, has been obstructed, potentially risking lives in emergency situations.
Appeals to Lift the Shutdown
ANSAM has been proactive in addressing this issue, having already appealed to the state government twice in September, urging them to lift the internet suspension. They emphasized that a blanket ban on internet services, including mobile data, disrupts the daily lives of the citizens and significantly affects the state’s development trajectory.
Demand for Immediate Action
The association has now given an ultimatum to the state government, demanding the restoration of internet services within five days. They warned of various forms of agitation to express their strong resentment against the government’s inaction on this front. The internet isn’t merely a communication tool but a crucial platform for research, information, and many other significant activities, the absence of which has serious implications for the entire population.
Call for Transparency in Recruitment
Besides the internet shutdown issue, ANSAM has reiterated its call for the state government to declare the results of the interview held in September 2021 for the appointment of 190 Assistant Professors for Government Colleges of Manipur. This demand underscores the association’s broader agenda for transparency and accountability in government operations.
Seeking Central Government’s Intervention
The lack of a robust response and intervention from the central government regarding the situation in Manipur has also been pointed out. The association fears that the prolonged internet shutdown may be a tool to suppress information and control the narrative surrounding the events unfolding in the state.
The unfolding scenario paints a grim picture of the digital divide and administrative apathy faced by the citizens of Manipur. As the days roll on with no internet, the patience of the affected communities thins, and the demands for digital restoration grow louder. The ball is now in the government’s court to act promptly and address the concerns raised by ANSAM, ensuring that the digital lifeline is restored and the socio-economic life of the state gets back on track.
The plea of ANSAM reflects a larger narrative of digital rights and the indispensable role of the internet in modern society. It brings to light the urgent need for a balanced approach to handling crises, one that does not compromise the fundamental rights and daily necessities of the citizens.