Erendro Leichombam

Father of Manipuri activist Erendro Leichombam has filed a petition at Supreme Court challenging his detention under National Security Act (NSA).

Activist Leichombam was booked under the NSA for a Facebook post on the death of Manipur BJP president due to Covid-19.

Leichombam’s counsel Shadan Farasat said that the detention of the activist is a reprisal for his criticism against BJP leaders for advocating cow-dung and cow-urine as cures for COVID.

“Erendro, a Manipuri political activist, has been preventively detained solely to punish him for his criticism of Bhartiya Janta Party (“BJP”) leaders for advocating cow-dung and cow-urine as cures for COVID,” Bar and Bench quoted the petition as saying.

It is a shocking instance of misuse of preventive detention law to stifle completely innocuous speech that is fully constitutionally protected and was made in public interest, the petition stated.

It further said that the detention of the activist was in contempt of the April 30, 2021 order of the Supreme Court in the suo motu case of COVID-19 in which a Bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud had observed that no one should be punished for critiquing COVID policies over social media.

“For this criticism, Erendro has spent 40 days in custody as of the date of filing of the petition: 4 days in police custody pursuant to criminal cases initiated for the criticism, and the remaining 36 days in preventive detention after grant of bail,” the petition added.

Leichombam and local journalist Kishorechandra Wangkhem were arrested on May 13 after BJP leaders complained about their Facebook posts, which said that “cow dung and cow urine” don’t cure Covid-19.

The Imphal West District Magistrate, Th. Kirankumar, ordered their detention under the stringent NSA on 17 May on the grounds that their posts could “endanger the maintenance of public order”.

Since then, the two have been languishing in Imphal’s Sajiwa jail without trial.

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