So far more than 60 journalists from India and abroad have endorsed a letter seeking the release of Manipur journalist, Kishorechandra Wangkhem. Wangkhem was arrested in Imphal under the National Security Act and has been sentenced to one-year imprisonment.
The journalist had been arrested by the Imphal West Police after a video he put up, criticising the BJP, went viral and was then granted bail. About 24 hours later, Wangkhem was arrested again.
In the letter, journalists have called out the invocation of the draconian National Security Act 1980 as “utterly arbitrary, high-handed and vindictive”. The letter further states: “This is also evident from the fact that when Kishorechandra was picked up under NSA on November 27, it was actually a day after he had been released by an Imphal court from an attempt to frame him on the charge of sedition over the same videos.”
It adds that the government “resorted to NSA even after the social media posts, however, intemperate their language, had been found to be posing no threat to public order, let alone national security”.
Calling out the government’s disproportionate reaction, journalists have urged the chief minister of Manipur, N Biren Singh, to end his “abuse of power”. The letter states: “Your disproportionate reactions betray, besides an intolerance to dissent, a disdain for the rule of law and the constitutional balance between free speech and reasonable restrictions. We urge you, therefore, to end this gross abuse of power by dropping all charges against Kishorechandra and withdrawing immediately the action taken against him under NSA.”
Earlier, Foundation for Media Professionals had also issued a statement condemning Wangkhem detention.