Kishorchandra Wangkhem (39), who has walked free after being detained for four-and-a-half months under the National Security Act (NSA) after the Manipur High Court quashed his detention, said Thursday that governments should understand that they “should not suppress people’s voices”.
Imphal-based Wangkhem, associated with a cable TV network, was arrested on November 27, 2018, for “derogatory” comments against the BJP government in the state and using “abusive” words for Chief Minister N Biren Singh, and was booked under the NSA. His arrest came less than 24 hours after he was granted bail 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.
“Everybody has the right to criticise the government because criticism is the ingredient of democracy. Without criticism, no government can flourish in the long run. Governments should understand and digest the fact that, no matter what, they should not try to suppress people’s voices,” Wangkhem told The Indian Express over the telephone.
He added, “We do not want a fascist regime and an authoritarian regime in the country which can come down to your house and harass you and put you in jail. Sedition law is something enacted by the British to suppress the Indian freedom fighters in those times. These kind of black laws are ruining the principles of our democracy. Unless you scrap these laws, the political class will obviously abuse it.”
He said, “I apologise for the unparliamentary words in my videos. But apart from those words, one needs to look at the underlining meaning that I wanted to convey to people. It was an outburst, it was not an instant outburst, I was being monitored, constantly under surveillance by the authorities because I have been a strong opponent of the BJP. We belong to a very minority group, and the very ideology of RSS or the BJP is one nation one culture, and one religion. That is not acceptable to us. Manipur is a multi-ethnic state.”