Journalist slammed CM N. Biren Singh for linking ‘Manipuri nationalism’ with patriotism of Rani Lakshmibai. Wife says she is clueless of his whereabouts.
New Delhi: An Imphal-based journalist, Kishorechandra Wangkhem, was arrested earlier this week under the National Security Act (NSA) for posting a video on social media criticising the BJP-led state government.
In the video, Wangkhem slammed Chief Minister N. Biren Singh for linking ‘Manipuri nationalism’ with the patriotism of Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi, one of the leading figures of the 1857 uprising against the British.
The state government had organised a function on 19 November to mark the birth anniversary of Rani Lakshmibai, drawing flak from local organisations as she had no connection with Manipur.
The video shows him hurling abuses in Meitei language at the BJP government and the RSS for organising the event. He also challenged the state government to arrest him if it can for opposing it.
On Friday, local residents took part in a sit-in protest in the Keishamthong area of Imphal calling Wangkhem’s arrest demanding his release and calling his arrest an abuse of human rights.
“One only cop in civil clothes came to ask how long we will protest. We haven’t been told anything else about him,” said Ranjita Elangbam, Wangkhem’s wife.
Akhu Chingangbam, a popular musician from Imphal, who participated in the protest, said people are concerned about what he called “abuse of power” by the government.
“This abuse of power is evident in the draconian steps taken by the government…this is a clear instance of human rights violation and attack on press freedom,” he told ThePrint.
“Was he arrested for just posting his opinion? Can anyone be given such a dangerous punishment for just posting a video criticising the BJP government?” asks Ranjita.
She also wanted to know on what grounds his speech could be called seditious.
Ranjita and her two children are totally in the dark about what happened Tuesday. Her daughters — aged 5 and 1 — are too young to understand what she is going through, even as the elder one constantly keeps asking about her father.
“They told us that he is being taken for questioning, but till today, they have not released him. We are clueless of his whereabouts,” the 38-year-old occupational therapist told ThePrint.
An order issued by the District Magistrate of Imphal West on 27 November said that Wangkhem’s activities were “prejudicial to the security of the state and to the maintenance of public order”.
The order also said that he be detained under section 3(2) of the National Security Act, 1980, until further orders.
However, this is not the first time Wangkhem was arrested. In August he was arrested for another social media post and charged under sections 505(2) and 506 of the IPC, but was released after protests by the local media fraternity.