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Manipur: Journalist, activist post comment on cow dung, charged under NSA

Journalist Kishorechandra Wangkhem, activist Erendro Leichombam arrested for social media posts that cow urine, dung doesn't cure Covid-19

Sabrangindia 18 May 2021

Image Courtesy:ndtv.com

Manipur based Kishorechandra Wangkhem is no stranger to being arrested and sent to jail. However, this latest charge under the stringent National Security Act (NSA) may have taken him by surprise, actually probably not. The journalist has been charged under the NSA for his social media posts. According to media reports, Wangkhem, is in police custody for a social media post he made last week “alluding the death” of state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Saikhom Tikendra Singh due to Covid-19 related complications. 

Along with Wangkhem, political activist Erendro Leichombam was arrested on Thursday night, both from their homes, reported NDTV, following a complaint filed against them by the state BJP vice-president, Usham Deban, and general secretary P Premananda Meetei. The BJP leaders’ complaint accused the two men of posting “offensive comments” after Singh’s death. According to the Free Press Journal Wangkhem wrote, “Santhi Sanyung na yadrabo, oh!!! RIP #Rashikang_Kangyet Hayeng nga chaani,” which translates to "Cow dung cow urine didn’t work. Groundless argument. Tomorrow I will eat fish." Leichombam had made a separate post reportedly dismissing the cow excera as a ‘cure for Covid’ theory.

According to NDTV, court in state capital Imphal, ordered on Monday, that the journalist "be detained under section 3(2) of National Security Act, 1980 until further orders, as and when he is released on bail,” adding that he must be "prevented from commission of such prejudicial activities".

The posts were reported to be referring to a news feature by Reuters about a group that believed if they  smear cow dung and urine on their bodies it will protect them from being infected by Coronavirus. Medical experts have been dismissing this myth for long, and warning of secondary infections due to close contact with animal excreta. However, for the BJP, any comment on the cow, or cow related issues, is an offence meriting charges under NSA.

The Mumbai Press Club has strongly condemned the arrest,  and demanded that Wangkhem be immediately released.

In 2020, India's press freedom rank has dropped to 142 out of 180. Reporters Without Borders (RSF)’ released their ‘2020 World Press Freedom Index’ that evaluates the situation for journalists each year in 180 countries and territories, and on expected lines, India is place 142 out of the 180 countries evaluated; this is two notches below the 140 position of 2019 and worst ever placement for India. The Report said: “Ever since the general elections in the spring of 2019, won overwhelmingly by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, pressure on the media to toe the Hindu nationalist government’s line has increased.” Criminal prosecutions are often used to gag journalists critical of the authorities, with some prosecutors invoking Section 124a of the penal code, under which “sedition” is punishable by life imprisonment.

Last year, Wangkhem was arrested for a Facebook post, a year before that he was arrested for something similar. According to NDTV, Wangkhem is facing charges under NSA for the second time. In 2018, the BJP-led Manipur government accused him of Sedition under the NSA after he was detained “allegedly for a social media post criticising Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh.”

Related:

Manipur journalists booked under UAPA, sedition law
FMP condemns misuse of draconian laws to target Manipur journalists
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Manipur: Journalist, activist post comment on cow dung, charged under NSA

Journalist Kishorechandra Wangkhem, activist Erendro Leichombam arrested for social media posts that cow urine, dung doesn't cure Covid-19

Image Courtesy:ndtv.com

Manipur based Kishorechandra Wangkhem is no stranger to being arrested and sent to jail. However, this latest charge under the stringent National Security Act (NSA) may have taken him by surprise, actually probably not. The journalist has been charged under the NSA for his social media posts. According to media reports, Wangkhem, is in police custody for a social media post he made last week “alluding the death” of state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Saikhom Tikendra Singh due to Covid-19 related complications. 

Along with Wangkhem, political activist Erendro Leichombam was arrested on Thursday night, both from their homes, reported NDTV, following a complaint filed against them by the state BJP vice-president, Usham Deban, and general secretary P Premananda Meetei. The BJP leaders’ complaint accused the two men of posting “offensive comments” after Singh’s death. According to the Free Press Journal Wangkhem wrote, “Santhi Sanyung na yadrabo, oh!!! RIP #Rashikang_Kangyet Hayeng nga chaani,” which translates to "Cow dung cow urine didn’t work. Groundless argument. Tomorrow I will eat fish." Leichombam had made a separate post reportedly dismissing the cow excera as a ‘cure for Covid’ theory.

According to NDTV, court in state capital Imphal, ordered on Monday, that the journalist "be detained under section 3(2) of National Security Act, 1980 until further orders, as and when he is released on bail,” adding that he must be "prevented from commission of such prejudicial activities".

The posts were reported to be referring to a news feature by Reuters about a group that believed if they  smear cow dung and urine on their bodies it will protect them from being infected by Coronavirus. Medical experts have been dismissing this myth for long, and warning of secondary infections due to close contact with animal excreta. However, for the BJP, any comment on the cow, or cow related issues, is an offence meriting charges under NSA.

The Mumbai Press Club has strongly condemned the arrest,  and demanded that Wangkhem be immediately released.

In 2020, India's press freedom rank has dropped to 142 out of 180. Reporters Without Borders (RSF)’ released their ‘2020 World Press Freedom Index’ that evaluates the situation for journalists each year in 180 countries and territories, and on expected lines, India is place 142 out of the 180 countries evaluated; this is two notches below the 140 position of 2019 and worst ever placement for India. The Report said: “Ever since the general elections in the spring of 2019, won overwhelmingly by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, pressure on the media to toe the Hindu nationalist government’s line has increased.” Criminal prosecutions are often used to gag journalists critical of the authorities, with some prosecutors invoking Section 124a of the penal code, under which “sedition” is punishable by life imprisonment.

Last year, Wangkhem was arrested for a Facebook post, a year before that he was arrested for something similar. According to NDTV, Wangkhem is facing charges under NSA for the second time. In 2018, the BJP-led Manipur government accused him of Sedition under the NSA after he was detained “allegedly for a social media post criticising Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh.”

Related:

Manipur journalists booked under UAPA, sedition law
FMP condemns misuse of draconian laws to target Manipur journalists
Woman journalist assaulted in Assam

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