Twitter Withholds Twitter Handle of Tribal Leaders Forum in Manipur, Sparking Censorship Concerns

Amid continuing violence in Manipur, the Twitter handle of the tribal forum Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum (ITLF), which describes itself as a conglomerate of recognized tribes in Lamka district of Manipur, has been “withheld” in India.

“ITLF Media Cell account has been withheld in India in response to a legal demand,” reads a statement on the tribal body’s Twitter page.

In a press release, the group said it has been subjected to “a shocking act of censorship” and that taking down the Twitter account “is yet another attempt to stifle the already marginalized Kuki-Zo tribal voice”. The group further said that this amounts to a violation of Article 19 (freedom of speech and expression) of the Indian Constitution.

“Blocking of the ITLF Media Cell Twitter account is yet another attempt to stifle the already marginalized Kuki-Zo tribal voice. This act comes as an addition to the already crippling 40+ days of internet shutdown in the Manipur Hills districts (minimal restriction in the valley districts), severely limiting and hampering the ability of the Kuki-Zo tribals to report on-ground daily incidents of attacks perpetrated by state-sponsored Meitei separatists, rampaging Meitei mobs including Meira Paibis, and radicalized groups such as Arambai Tenggol and Meetei Leepun,” the ITLF said in a statement.

Earlier, the group reiterated its demand for the imposition of President’s rule in Manipur amid continued clashes with the Meitei community. 

With ethnic clashes continuing in Manipur, several civil society groups have urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to form a court-monitored tribunal to bring back normalcy in the state and demanded financial compensation to those affected.

Two civilians were injured in the violence on the intervening night of Friday and Saturday as mobs clashed with security forces in Manipur’s Imphal.

In the latest violent episodes in Manipur, mobs have repeatedly tried to burn the houses of leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). 

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