Former student leader charged with sedition for Facebook comments on Citizenship Bill, says Manipur police

Image taken from Facebook.

Former President of Manipur’s Student Association Delhi (MSAD), Veewon Thokchom, earlier arrested by a joint team of Manipur and Delhi police on Friday, has been booked under sedition after his Facebook comments on Citizenship (Amendment) Bill allegedly incited violence, Manipur police said on Saturday.

In a press conference in Imphal, K Meghchandra, Superintendent of Police Imphal East district, told the media that as a preliminary investigation, the police team said that deliberate planning was made by Thokchom and his associates to “spread hatred, incited violence” during the agitation against the Bill in Manipur.

“In one of the messages, he urged the people to intensify agitation, burnt properties and even confront with some political parties when there was a curfew in Imphal. Besides that he has also mentioned in one of his post that right to self-determination was the only solution,” said Meghachandra.

Meghachandra said that the district police lodged an FIR under 124A IPC (sedition) against the student leader last Tuesday.

The FIR was lodged following a formal complaint received from the Superintendent of Police CID (Crime Branch) intimating to take necessary action against Thokchom, based on a report submitted by the cyber crime police station Manipur, he said.

In addition to sedition, police have lodged section 153A, 225 IPC for resisting arrest and promoting disharmony, he said.

The Bill amendment of the Citizenship Act, 1955 includes relaxing the eligibility rules for an immigrant — belonging to six minority (non-Muslim) religions, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan — in getting a citizenship for the country.

Many in the Northeast consider the Bill to be a threat to the indigenous people of the region. It was passed in the Lok Sabha last month and the Bill was scheduled to be table in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday but was not as the House got adjourned.

Earlier, Amit Shah, the BJP chief had said that the Modi Government brought in the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in order to prevent Assam from becoming another Kashmir, reported the Hindustan Times.

Saying that the NRC had been brought in to identify infiltrators, Shah said, the BJP will rid Assam of all such aliens by deporting them.

“We won’t let Assam become another Kashmir, this is our commitment. We’ll repeat the NRC exercise as many times as required to, but we’ll identify and deport each infiltrator from Assam,” Shah said while addressing a public rally at North Lakhimpur in Assam.

Earlier, Shah while accusing the Trinamool Congress of “misleading” people on the National Register of Citizens (NRC), said that Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh refugees in the state ‘need not be afraid’ because the Bill has been brought to grant them citizenship.

Recently, Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that if the Citizen (Amendment) Bill 2016 is not passed, it will be a surrender to the ‘philosophy of Jinnah.

Sarma also added that the purpose of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) was to “detect Jinnahs”.

In the north-eastern state of Assam, India has published a list which strips four million people of their citizenship. It says the process is to root out hordes of illegal Bangladeshi migrants.

The list, named as the National Register of Citizens (NRC), is a list of people who can prove they came to the state by 24 March 1971, when Bangladesh was created.

The list has sparked fears of targeted hunting towards ethnic minorities in Assam. However, officials have said that no one will face immediate deportation and that the option of an appeal will be available to all.

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