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Sunday, September 26, 2021

Manipur journalist held under NSA for Facebook post freed after HC order

Kishorchandra Wangkhem was held for a post on his Facebook page on the death of a Manipur BJP leader, who succumbed to Covid-19, commenting that 'cow dung, cow urine did not work'.

Written by Jimmy Leivon | Imphal |
Updated: July 23, 2021 9:53:38 pm
Journalist Keshorchandra Wangkhem at Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences (JNIMS) Hospital. (File Photo)

Manipur journalist Kishorchandra Wangkhem — arrested under the National Security Act for a Facebook post questioning the efficacy of cow urine as a Covid-19 cure — was released from jail following an order passed by the Manipur High Court on Friday.

His release comes four days after Erendro Leichombam, another political activist from the state who was arrested on the same charge, was set free by the Supreme Court.

Wangkhem had posted after a Manipur BJP leader died from Covid-19 that “cow dung, cow urine did not work”. Leichomba, too, had put up a similar post. Both were arrested in May.

The Manipur High Court, noting the Supreme Court order, said: “We find no distinction or difference between the case of the petitioner’s husband (Kishorchandra) and that of Erendro Leichombam. Both of them put up similar Facebook posts, critical of the utility of cow dung and cow urine in treating Corona virus. As they stand identically situated, we are of the opinion that the continued incarceration of the petitioner’s husband would be as much a violation of Article 21 of the Constitution, as it was in the case of Erendro Leichombam.”

The order was issued by Chief Justice PV Sanjay Kumar and Justice Kh Nobin in response to a letter petition filed by Kishorchandra’s wife Elangbam Ranjita.

In the petition, Ranjita stated that both Leichombam and Wangkhem were arrested on the same grounds under the National Security Act, but while the Supreme Court has ordered the release of the former, the journalist continues to remain in jail.
On Monday, while ordering the released of Erendro, a bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and M R Shah of the Supreme Court had observed that the “continued detention of the petitioner” would “amount to a violation of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution”.

Speaking to the media after his release, Wangkhem said he will move the Supreme Court seeking compensation for wrongful incarceration.

“I have been incarcerated for months on the same charges. But this time I am contemplating moving the Supreme Court for compensation for the wrongful incarceration so that the government at least learns a lesson and it makes them think twice before arresting or detaining people under the draconian law on fabricated charges,” he said.

In 2018, too, Wangkhem had been incarcerated under the NSA for more than four months for criticising the BJP-led Manipur government.

“I feel that the government should respect one’s dissent or opinion rather than silencing the people”, said Wangkhem.

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