The Manipur High Court on Friday directed the state and the central governments to submit counter-affidavits against the petition filed by former journalist Kishorchandra Wangkhem, challenging his detention order under National Security Act (NSA) by February 1. Mr. Wangkhem was sentenced to a year’s detention under NSA, after being taken into custody on November 27, for social media posts against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP and its ideological mentor the Rashtriyaswayam Sevak Sangh or the RSS and the Chief Minister.
“NSA can’t be slapped against him. Markandey Katju told us that our fundamental rights are being violated. We have prayed for earliest possible release,” Ranjita, Mr. Wangkhem’s wife told NDTV today.
A senior lawyer in Manipur, Sreeji Bhavsar, on Thursday had written to the former Supreme Court judge, Markandey Katju about his client’s detention and the jail authorities not allowing Ranjita to meet her husband. Putting out Mr Bhavsar’s email on Twitter, Mr Katju yesterday wrote, “This is an email I have received from Shreeji Bhavsar, counsel for Kishorechandra Wangkhem, the journalist who is incarcerated in a Manipur jail only because he had criticized the Manipur Government and its Chief Minister, who is behaving like a tinpot dictator in Manipur.”
Critics have slammed the Manipur government’s contention that Mr. Wangkhem’s activities were “prejudicial to the security of the state and maintenance of public order”.
“It is nothing but blatant abuse of the law and powers of the government,” said Mr. Wangkhem’s counsel, N Victor told NDTV, adding that he can’t be detained under NSA.
The state government, on December 14, had fixed his detention period for 12 months, which is the maximum under the Act, after the approval of the NSA advisory board.
In his petition, Mr. Wangkhem wants his detention to be dismissed on grounds that none of the reasons given to him threatens “maintenance of public order.” The former journalist’s petition also says, the “so-called grounds merely relate to freedom of speech and expression at best.”
Mr. Wangkhem was initially arrested on separate charges of sedition on November 21 before being released on November 25 and again arrested two days later.
In one of the posts, Mr. Wangkham had criticized the state government for commemorating the Rani of Jhansi, a symbol of resistance against British colonial rule. Mr. Wangkham said the Rani of Jhansi had nothing to do Manipur’s own struggle against the British. “Don’t betray, don’t insult the freedom fighters of Manipur,” he had said.