The Indian Journalists Union (IJU), the Press Council of India (PCI), various students’ organisations and political parties have mounted pressure on Manipur’s BJP-led coalition Government to release Kishorechandra Wangkhemcha, a journalist, who was arrested on November 27 under the National Security Act (NSA).
The Press Council of India (PCI) has also registered a suo motu case regarding the arrest of the journalist.
The Chief Secretary, the Home Secretary and the Director-General of Police, Manipur, have been directed by PCI chairman Justice Chandramauli Kumar Prasad to submit a report regarding the case.
A report published on Thursday by The Hindu stated Kishorechandra Wangkhemcha, a journalist working for local cable network ISTV, was arrested earlier for criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh for observing the birth anniversary of Rani of Jhansi in Imphal.
It may be mentioned that Wangkhemcha had contended in his Facebook message that the Rani of Jhansi had nothing to do with Manipur and the anniversary was observed at the directives of the Central Government.
The court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), Imphal West on November 26 had released Wangkhemcha on bail stating that his message did not amount to “sedition”. However, the journalist was arrested the next day under the NSA.
The journalist’s wife Ranjita alleged that when the police raided their house, the police could not give any reasons for the arrest.
In a statement, the Manipur University Students’ Union (MUSU) has made an appeal to all to raise their voice against the journalist’s arrest stating that this is a case of ‘blatant violation’ of human rights.
MUSU general secretary I. Kennedy questioned how a few words by Wangkhemcha could pose a threat to the national security.
Meanwhile, the Indian Journalists Union (IJU) stated that through the arrest of the journalist the freedom of expression has been curtailed and it was misuse of the NSA.
IJU president, PCI member Amar Devulapalli and secretary-general Sabina Inderjit stated that the arrest must be seen as an “attack on freedom of expression and most undemocratic”.
The report quoted a prominent Manipur High Court advocate as saying on Tuesday that the “State Government should have gone to the High Court against the ruling of the CJM, Imphal West, if it wanted to arrest the journalist under the NSA.”
The advocate also stated that the “Government’s justification will not hold water if Wangkhemcha goes to the High Court challenging his detention under the NSA as the lower court had ruled that his case did not amount to sedition”.
However, the All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union (AMWJU) said it would not get involved in the issue. The report quoted AMWJU president Brozendra Ningombam as saying: “There is a resolution which says that the AMWJU shall not get involved in matters which have nothing to do with the profession of a journalist.”