Since 3rd May, 2023, the State of Manipur has witnessed an unprecedented total internet shutdown. The internet shutdown has been active for a period of 78 days at this point. The districts of Churachandpur and Pherzawl were shut down even longer, with the first internet shutdown in the current spate of violence being imposed on 28th April, 2023.
Every shutdown order that was imposed had seen both broadband and mobile internet suspended. The internet shutdowns in Manipur were also imposed mechanically from May 3rd when mobile internet was shutdown and May 4th when broadband was shutdown. Every 5 days, a new order was passed extending the shutdown, with every subsequent shutdown order seeing both broadband and mobile internet being suspended simultaneously.
The justification for the internet shutdown given by the State was violent clashes which escalated into widespread violence and killings across the state.
This is one of the longest shutdowns imposed in the North-East, the longest shutdown in 2023, and the longest shutdown outside of the State of Kashmir in India. The last time an entire State was shutdown in India was earlier in 2023, when the State of Punjab was subjected to a total internet shutdown for a period of 5 days.
Internet shutdown disproportionately impacts people, and is a tool that must be used sparingly. It has been reiterated by SFLC.in and other experts that the suspension of Internet services across States is bound to impact livelihood, education and health care for lakhs of people, as around 96 percent of the population in India depends on mobile internet services for a variety of uses. Apart from this, businesses rely on broadband services to provide their services, manage logistics, and access their bank accounts.