Kishorechandra Wangkhem, a journalist from Manipur, who was detained under the National Security Act in November, has been sentenced to one year in jail under the law.
Wangkhem was initially arrested on separate charges of sedition on November 21 and was released on November 25, his wife, Ranjita Elangbam, told Reuters.He was then detained on November 27 under the National Security Act (NSA),which allows for detention of up to a year without trial.
Sources said the review board for the NSA order met on December 11. In a December 13 report, the board decided that Wangkhem should be detained for 12 months. His advocate said the development was as per the provisions of the NSA and that he would appeal against it.
Wangkhem was detained in November “with a view to prevent him from acting in any matter prejudicial to the security of the state and to the maintenance of public order”, as per a government order.
About a week before his detention, the Manipur Police arrested Wangkhem for posting a video that was critical of Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Facebook.
In multiple video clips, which were uploaded on November 19 in both English and Meitei, Wangkhem purportedly said: “I am saddened and shocked to learn that the present government of Manipur is observing birth anniversary of Rani of Jhansi. And the chief minister himself claims that the BJP government is observing this for her role in unification of India or her role in the freedom struggle. But…she has nothing to do with Manipur. You are observing this because the Centre asked you to do this,” the journalist allegedly said, as per an Indian Express report.
Calling CM Biren Singh a “puppet” of the Centre, Wangkhem said,“…don’t betray, don’t insult the freedom fighter of Manipur. Don’t insult the present freedom struggler of Manipur. Don’t insult the people of Manipur. Therefore, I am saying this again, you, CM, come and arrest me again, but I will still say you… are a puppet of Hindutva.”
On November 21, Wangkhem, who was working as an anchor-reporter with ISTV, a Manipuri news channel,was arrested by Imphal West Police in response to the video that was uploaded on Facebook.
Wangkhem was arrested under sections 294 and 500 of the IPC in addition to section 124 A, which deals with sedition. However, after he was produced before a local court on November 25, it released him on bail on the grounds that his words were “a mere expression of opinion against the public conduct of a public figure in a street language.”
On November 27, as per a new order issued by the district magistrate of West Imphal, Wangkhem was detained under Section 3(2) of the NSA until further orders. He has since been lodged at the central jail in Sajiwa, on the outskirts of Imphal.
PM Modi and the Indian media
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government have had a tumultuous relationship with the media. Veteran journalist Punya Prasun Bajpai’s show named Masterstroke was allegedly blocked after it reported that the woman who spoke to Prime Minister Modi during a video interaction on June 20 had been trained to make false claims.
Bajpai and ABP News Network Managing Editor Milind Khandekar quitthe channel in a rather abrupt move. Neither Bajpai nor ABP News issued any statement that specifically mentioned what went wrong. But the resignations were enough to indicate a crisis within the Indian media.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius