#JournalismIsNotACrime: Manipur journalist arrested, released on bail, re-arrested without arrest warrant on ‘sedition’ charges

Kishorechandra Wangkhem was arrested for criticising the BJP-led government in Manipur. (File Photo: facebook.com/thoi.meeteiw)

In a statement, The Manipur Students Association in Delhi condemned the arrest of the journalist based on ‘seditious and obscene language’ charges under the IPC after he ‘uploaded a video in social media where he questioned the government’s agenda of celebrating Rani Jhansi on the occasion of Quami Ekta Diwas’.

The Manipur Students Association in Delhi (MSAD) condemned the arrest of journalist Wangkhemcha Wangthoi, former sub-editor and anchor of Imphal based ISTV network on October 26, calling it the ‘shut down of voices of the people’.

Wangkhem had posted a video on his Facebook account in which he had severely criticised the BJP-led government in Manipur for observing Rani of Jhansi’s birth anniversary.

In the video, the journalist questioned the contribution of Rani of Jhansi in the history of Manipur.

Criticising Manipur CM, the Manipur journalist said that he had organised the event because the government of India asked him to do so.

In a press release, the MSAD said the arrest charge was on seditious and obscene language charges under section 124-A/294/500 of the IPC after he ‘uploaded a video in social media where he questioned the government’s agenda of celebrating Rani Jhansi on the occasion of Quami Ekta Diwas’.

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He was later released on bail after the Chief Judicial Magistrate L. Tonsing found that the video which he uploaded through social media did not attract section 124-A and that section 294 and 500 are bailable offences, the statement said.

He was arrested again after his release on the same day without any arrest warrant, the statement said. It added that his family had not been informed of the reason of his arrest.

According to the statement, Wangkhemcha Wangthoi has been ‘a harsh critic and an outspoken voice of the BJP government’s policies in Manipur, from the absurd and humiliating statement of the CM at the Madhavpur Mela in Gujarat on 29th March earlier this year, to the atrocities carried out by the BJP government during the Manipur University crisis’.

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The statement added that he had been also earlier arrested on 9th August this year for similar act.

Hitting at the ‘fascist character’ of the Nongthombam Biren led BJP government, the association said that the government had ‘nothing to hide nor nothing to offer to the people’.

The abrupt discontinuation of news analysis and discussion program that used to be aired at 7.30 am news everyday on All India Radio (AIR) under the direct order of the BJP government clearly reveals the utter distaste of any voice that does not speak the BJP language, the statement revealed.

The association called the arrest a ‘cowardly action’, and said that the incident should not be treated with isolation. It called the arrest ‘a classic example of a true tyrannical government which does not allow different voices of any kind’.

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The government is generating a culture of silencing people’s voices through its use of arbitrary and draconian law – the detaining of WangkhemchaWangthoi under National Security Act (NSA) is an example, the association said.

It said that the state government was using ‘a desperate measure to cover up its failure in building consensus on its governance in the last one and half year’ and that due to that, it ‘is ready tooth and nail to use any coercive means’.

The MSAD said that ‘public consensus cannot be built by pouring in fear and terror to the collective psyche of the Manipuri population’.

It strongly condemned the action taken upon Wangkhemcha Wangthoi and demanded that he be released unconditionally.

They appealed to the people of Manipur ‘to come out and raise their voices against the despotic actions of the BJP government that is becoming fascist as days pass by’. They stated that they ‘stand in solidarity with all the people’s struggle for freedom and justice’.


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