Manipur journalists released; charges dropped

Police will continue investigating author of the article


Paojel Chaoba (Executive Editor) and Dhiren Sadokpam (Editor-in-Chief) of Frontier Manipur, an online news portal, were released after charges against them were dropped by the police. Chaoba and Sadokpam had been arrested on Sunday for publishing article titled Revolutionary Journey in a mess, written by M Joy Luwang.

The Telegraph reports that the editors were freed after senior journalists met the Chief Minister N. Biren Singh. Additionally, the editors also issued a “clarification” that publishing the article without verifying the source was an oversight.

Imphal West superintendent of police K. Meghachandra Singh told The Telegraph, “We had filed the FIR on our own. It was not reported by anyone. Sometimes prima facie there may be many things but on close examination we find something different. They were detained for 24 hours. Our investigation against Luwang, the author of the article, will continue.”

Brief background of the case

The article was published on January 8, following which Manipur Police filed a suo moto FIR naming Luwang, Chaoba and Sadokpam. Chaoba and Sadokpam were charged under provisions of IPC sections 124A (sedition), 120B (criminal conspiracy), 505(b) (causing alarm to induce offence against the state), and 34 (common intention), as well as the UAPA’s Section 39 (supporting terror organisation).

According to the FIR, “In the article the author openly endorsed revolutionary ideologies and activities and expressed shock and dismay at the deteriorating character of the armed revolutionary leaders of Manipur in the recent decade.”

However, their arrest led to widespread condemnation from journalists’ groups. Foundation of Media Professionals (FMP) released a statement saying, “The article in question is largely a critique of militant groups in Manipur, tracing what its author believes are the historical causes of their decline. The existence of such groups in the past, and of their journey, is well known to all in Manipur.”

It further said, “There have been many cases of misuse of the most stringent provisions of law against journalists in Manipur in recent years. The most well-known example is that of Kishorchandra Wangkhem, who has been arrested multiple times for posting irreverent comments on Facebook, most recently, about an online altercation between the two wives of a minister, for which he was charged with sedition.”

The All Manipur Working Journalists Union also intervened, and the Editors Guild of India (EGI) also issued a statement calling the arrests “a brazen violation of every constitutional safeguard given for freedom of expression.” EGI demanded the “immediate release of the editors and withdrawal of these cases that pose a threat to free expression, and to democracy itself.”

The entire statement may be read here: 




Manipur journalists booked under UAPA, sedition law

FMP condemns misuse of draconian laws to target Manipur journalists



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