Manipur police on Saturday arrested Erendro Leichombam, convener of Peoples’ Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA), for refusing to take down a video containing inflammatory speeches from his Facebook profile. On Friday, police had detained six persons for allegedly circulating the video after it triggered panic among public and warned internet users against circulating it.
Despite the warning, Leichombam refused to delete his post and questioned the police over failing to arrest those who produced the video. Erendro, in a Facebook post, wrote, “Following fake warning from the police the hate video circulated in social media has been either removed or deleted but I refuse to do so. The video speaks for itself their mentality. Why is the Manipur Police not arresting those who created the hate video when it had been very swift in arresting internet trolls who has recently threatened the Chief Minister’s son. We will not remain a silent spectator.”
Erendro was picked up from his Thangmeiband office on Saturday afternoon by a joint team of officials from the cyber crime unit and Imphal police station. He was booked under sections of IPC and IT Act for allegedly promoting enmity between different groups and criminal intimidation.
Biju Leisangthem, a spokesperson for PRJA, has termed Erendro’s detention as “political persecution” allegedly devised by the ruling party. He alleged that no arrest warrant was issued or proper information relayed to anyone in connection with Erendro’s arrest. Leisangthem asserted that Erendro has been an outspoken critic against the government’s failed policies and high-handedness. For the same reason, the BJP also recently filed a defamation case against Erendro, he alleged.
Later in the evening, party workers and well-wishers staged a protest in front of the PRJA office demanding the immediate release of Erendro. The protestors threatened to intensify their agitation if Erendro was not immediately released without setting any condition.
PRJA, a regional party based in Imphal, was formed in 2016 by Irom Chanu Sharmila. The party was formed by Sharmila after ending her historic 16 years hunger strike on August 9, 2016, demanding repeal of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958. The objective of the party is to fight against the imposition of AFSPA and demand fair elections be conducted in Manipur.
Erondro contested in the 2016 Assembly election of Manipur from Thangmeiband constituency alongside Sharmila, who contested in Thouba against the former chief minister of Manipur. Erendro, a Harvard postgraduate in economic policy, has gained a significant amount of followers, particularly among the youth of Manipur, despite not winning the election.