Justifying their silence over the recent detention of a journalist under the National Security Act (NSA), Manipur’s journalists’ union cited an earlier resolution which said it wouldn’t accept responsibility for a journalist making derogatory comments on social media.
In a statement, the All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union (AMWJU) said that in a resolution in August the body had decided that “any person working in any of the media houses of Manipur as journalist/non journalist must face on their own the consequences of posting/ uploading derogatory, defamatory, illegal, unconstitutional, etc. comment/video on social media that is not connected with the profession of journalism in whatsoever manner, and that the Union will not be responsible for it.”
The president of the press union, Brozendro Ningombam, said the journalist Kishorechandra Wangkhem’s video was a blatant demonstration of his political leaning and bias in the most unacceptable, uncultured and indecent manner.
“AMWJU, being the apex body of right-thinking and sensible journalist community of the state, doesn’t stand with any criminal-minded and mentally unsound person who acts and talks in the most uncivilized manner in an inebriated condition,” Ningombam said.
Ningombam is the editor-in-chief of ISTV Network, the same channel where Wangkhem worked.
Arrest over videos criticising government event
Wangkhem was first arrested by the Imphal West Police after he uploaded a video criticising the BJP-led government on social media. In the video, Wangkhem criticised the BJP for celebrating the birth anniversary of the Rani of Jhansi, and allegedly used derogatory words against the BJP and RSS. He was booked under various sections, including sedition.
He was released on bail on November 26. While granting him bail, an Imphal court said, “It does not appear to me to such which is intended to create enmity between different groups of people community, sections, etc. nor does it appear to be one which attempts to bring hatred, contempt, dissatisfaction against the government of India or of the state.”
“It is mere expression of opinion against the Prime Minister and chief minister of Manipur which cannot be equated with an attack to invite people to violence against the government of India or Manipur to topple it,” the court said.
Barely 24 hours after his release, Wangkhem was arrested again and booked under NSA.
Second such case involving Wangkhem
Ningombam said that Wangkhem was arrested by police in August in a similar case, and had been released after the journalists’ body intervened.
The AMWJU had an understanding with the chief minister that after his release Wangkhem would be brought before him for a “courtesy forget and forgive” meeting. However, Wangkhem flatly refused to oblige, Ningombam said.
The AMJU president said that on November 19, the day Wangkhem uploaded his offensive and abusive video clips on social media, he had also written in some WhatsApp groups that he was quitting the news channel.
However, the management of the channel took cognizance of the video and immediately decided to terminate Wangkhem’s services on the grounds of non-compliance, misbehaviour, insubordination and desertion, Ningombam said.