The Congress will extend all possible support to Manipuri journalist Kishorchandra Wangkhem, who was booked last year under the National Security Act (NSA) for criticising the BJP and Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh and is currently in jail, party chief Rahul Gandhi said in a recent letter to the journalist’s family.
Imphal-based Wangkhem was arrested under the NSA after uploading controversial videos criticising the BJP-led Manipur government for observing the birth anniversary of the Rani of Jhansi, in which he allegedly used abusive words against the CM.
He was arrested on November 27 under the NSA and sent to jail, less than 24 hours after being granted bail in the case by a CJM court in West Imphal, which had maintained that the remarks were an “expression of opinion against the Prime Minister of India and Chief Minister of Manipur” and couldn’t be termed as seditious.
The NSA order issued by the district magistrate of West Imphal said Wangkhem “would resume activities which are prejudicial to the security of the state and to the maintain of public order, as he is a habitual offender invoking offences that intends to cause fear or alarm to the public. He should be prevented from commission of such prejudicial activities through an alternative preventive measure”.
In an order dated December 14, the Manipur Governor said Wangkhem should be detained for 12 months – the maximum period allowed by Section 13 of the NSA.
Gandhi’s letter, dated January 2 and delivered to the family recently, said, “This is another attempt to use the state machinery to silence dissent. Over the past few months, we have witnessed the BJP government’s design to trample on constitutional rights of the people of Manipur. It is unfortunate that regressive forces continue to unleash violence with impunity, while those who seek accountability from the State are being jailed.”
The letter continued, “Fascist forces have not only attempted to destroy the idea of India but attack anyone who challenges their distorted narrative.”
Wangkhem’s advocate Chongtham Victor told The Indian Express that the hearing of the journalist’s plea against the detention would be next heard at the Manipur High Court on February 1.
The petition says, “Detention of a bonafide citizen under NSA for merely criticizing the government is bad in law. Such act on the part of the detaining authority defeats the very object of democratic principles. In a democracy, people have the right to criticize the government. It is a part of the freedom of speech guaranteed by Article 19(1) of the Constitution of India.”