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'I Fear Losing My Job': The Impact Of Internet Ban in Violence-Torn Manipur

The apex court declined urgent hearing of plea against shutdown saying State HC was seized of matter.

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“I fear my office will send me a termination letter soon. My work has been severely affected due to the internet ban that has been in effect in Manipur since last month,” Biplob Singh Huidrom (name changed), a communications professional at a software firm who has been who, like many others, for the past three years working from home, told The Quint.

He had been working in Bengaluru before shifting back home to Manipur in May 2020 after COVID-19.

“I lost my father due to COVID in 2020 and cannot really think about going back to Bengaluru now as my mother will be left alone otherwise. My office agreed to let me work from home permanently. I don’t understand why the authorities took such a drastic step. If they are worried about rumor mongering on social media sites, they can ban access to such sites but a total ban is illogical,” he asserted.

Huidrom’s plight is shared by many. A ban on internet services since violence broke out in the state on 3 May is affecting the livelihoods and educational plans of many, among other things.

In fact, recently Moirangthem Sudhakar, spokesperson, All Manipur Remote Working Professionals told the media the ban on internet has not only put many professionals on the verge of losing their jobs, but some have even lost their jobs due to the situation.

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On Friday, 9 June, the Supreme Court declined urgent listing of a plea against the shutdown of the internet services in violence-hit Manipur since 3 May, saying that the State High Court was already seized of the matter.

The plea said the shutdown was 'grossly disproportionate' in its interference with the constitutional right to freedom of speech and expression, and the right to carry on any trade or business using the constitutionally protected medium of the internet.

The suspension of mobile data services, including broadband, has been extended till 3 pm of June 10, according to an order issued by Commissioner (Home) H Gyan Prakash had said.

The ban has not only impacted those working in Manipur, but also students in the state, as well as those who belong to the state but are working outside.
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'Worried for My Son's Future'

Grace Paite (name changed) is a worried mother. Her son who just passed his CBSE 12 exams wants to pursue his higher studies outside Manipur.

“My son is keen on pursuing his bachelor’s degree either from Delhi or Bengaluru. And nowadays, all form filling for admission to these colleges is done through the internet."
Grace Paite

"But due to net being cut off in the state we have not been able to access information on online form submission, cut off marks last date for application in colleges in major cities of India that are outside Manipur, “ Paite, who is a resident of Lamka, a town in Churachandpur, told The Quint.

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'Barely Surviving as Parents Have Not Been Able to Send Me Money'

Then, there are students studying outside Manipur who have been facing financial difficulties due their parents not being able to send money due to the ban on the internet.

“My rent has been due for the last two months as my parents have not been able to send me money due to the internet ban. They cannot even go to a bank and deposit it in my account physically since they are holed up in a relief camp."

My landlord has threatened to throw me out if I fail to pay the rent by next week. I have borrowed money from some of my friends and am barely managing, William Tonsing, a student at a college in Hyderabad, told The Quint.

Tonsing who is from Churachandpur,  said that his situation is really dire as he does not have the means to travel back home.

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The ongoing unrest in Manipur has triggered a mass exodus, with families from both communities, the Kukis and the Meiteis, escaping the violence.

At least 100 people have lost their lives and 310 others injured in the violence, and a total of 37,450 people are currently sheltered in 272 relief camps, as per government data.

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.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Manipur Violence 

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