Manipur Police booked a journalist and another activist under the National Security Act (NSA) on Monday, over their “offensive” social media posts on the death of Manipur state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief S Tikendra Singh, who passed away due to Covid-19 infection last week.

Journalist Kishorchandra Wangkhem and activist Erendro Leichombam were arrested on May 13 (Thursday night) from their homes after the state BJP vice-president, Usham Deban, and general secretary P Premananda Meetei filed a complaint against them alleging the duo had posted offensive comments over the death of Saikhom Tikendra Singh on Facebook.

Manipur BJP chief S Tikendra Singh passed away on May 13 due to COVID-19. He was under treatment at Shija Hospital in Imphal.

According to advocate Victor, counsel of both Wangkhem and Leichombam, “His (Wangkhem) post had offensive comments. Leichombam also posted a similar statement”
“FIR was lodged and they were arrested. They have been sent to police custody till May 17. The Chief Judicial Magistrate (CMJ) court of Judge Y Somorjit Singh had granted them bail earlier on May 17, but before they could be released, the government invoked the National Security Act (NSA) on them,” said advocate Victor.

Talking about his further course of action in the case, he said, “We will file representation to the concerned authorities within a short period. After disposing of the representation, we’ll come to know if we need to approach the High Court or not.”

Speaking to ANI, Wangkhem’s wife Ranjita said, “we live in an emotional society and the situation was not favourable for his comment, but charging him with NSA is not right.”

Notably, this is not the first time both accused are arrested. Earlier in 2018, NSA was invoked against Wangkhem after he had posted a video on Facebook critical of Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Leichombam was also charged with ‘sedition’ in July 2020. Leichombam, who is a vocal critic of the current BJP dispensation in Manipur, was arrested in 2018 for posting a video on Facebook that the police said amounted to “promoting enmity between different groups and criminal intimidation”.

Leichombam is the convenor of a Manipur-based political party, People’s Resurgence and Justice Alliance, which he had co-founded with activist Irom Sharmila in 2016 after she ended her 16-year-old fast for the removal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act from Manipur. (ANI)