Court Releases Manipur Scribe After 4 Months in Jail
I want our dignity restored, says his wife
ITANAGAR: Manipur journalist Kishorchandra Wangkhem has been freed by the court more than four months after he was jailed under sedition charges in Imphal.
Wangkhem was arrested three times in six months last year, the third time in November for posting videos on his Facebook account where he is seen criticising Manipur chief minister, N Biren Singh, for praising the Rani of Jhansi and her role in India’s independence struggle during an event celebrating her birth anniversary.
In the video, Wangkhem used explicit language and said that Singh ‘betrayed and insulted the freedom fighters of Manipur’, called him a “puppet of Hindutva…controlled by a remote from the Centre by a tea-maker, chai wala”, and dared Singh to arrest him. That dare appeared to have worked and the journalist was arrested under sedition charges but soon released when the chief judicial magistrate of Imphal West district said that the “words, terms and gesture used by the accused and the context in which they are used and the comment made by the accused cannot be termed seditious to attract offence under section 124-A IPC”.
However, on November 27, when he was out on bail, Wangkhem was taken to police custody once again and a detention order was passed by the same court. He has been housed in the Manipur Central Jail at Sajiwa since.
Hearing his petition for release, the Manipur High Court today said that the records furnished by the state attorney general “does not indicate that the compact disc containing the four numbers of video clips were supplied to the petitioner”.
The Manipur government attorney general had told the court that the “compact disc was played before the petitioner by the Advisory Board” but the court said that it would “in no way assist the respondents to indicate that while furnishing the grounds of detention to the petitioner as well as the documents referred to in the grounds of detention the compact disc was supplied to the petitioner”.
“No undeniable facts have been placed before us to indicate that while furnishing the grounds of detention dated 1 December 2018, the compact disc containing the four video clips were supplied to the petitioner,” it said.
The court said that it had “no option but to infer that the compact (disc) containing the four video clips were not supplied to the petitioner” and “have therefore, no hesitation to come to the conclusion that non furnishing of the pictures with copies alleged to have posted by the petitioner on his Facebook wall on 7 August 2018 and the compact disc containing four video clips to the petitioner vitiates the very detention order dated 27 November 2018”.
The high court further set aside and quashed the November 27 order.
Speaking to The Citizen from Imphal, Wangkhem’s wife Elangbam Ranjita said that she is happy although justice was delayed and her family suffered a lot, she thanked the Indian democracy.
She said that she last visited her husband on March 26 and his health was improving.
In March this year, Wangkhem had taken ill and was admitted at a hospital.
“His blood-sugar level is better now,” she said.
While Ranjita is clearly relieved with her husband securing release, she is far from satisfied
“We have lost so many days. I want compensation. Who is going to giving the three-four months,” she said.
“I want back the dignity that we have lost,” she said.
She also admitted that her husband’s language was harsh but that invoking the NSA was “harsh” and that she does not want such incidences to happen to others too.
“I want to fight it. I don’t want others to suffer,” Ranjita said.