Bryan Akoijam had spent years building up his entertainment company in India’s north-eastern state of Manipur. Between his thriving YouTube channel, which attracted 9m views a month, as well as running a local cinema and promoting regional films, he had brought on over a dozen staff. Business, he says, was good. That was, until 3 May, when the internet in the state was suddenly and unilaterally cut off.
On Saturday, Manipur’s mobile internet was finally turned back on after over 140 days. But for those such as Akoijam, the consequences of an almost five month blackout have been devastating.
Since the ban in May, views to his YouTube channel, which promotes film and entertainment content, dropped by almost 90%. Finding he could barely keep his business alive, he had to close it.
“I was employing 27 people but I had to lay off all of them,” he said. “I am feeling really bad for not being able to continue their jobs but there was no other way. Because of the internet shutdown imposed by the government, the entire business model of people like me comes crashing down.”