"In a democracy, people may give you power but if you misuse it then there should be a question of accountability."
The Supreme Court ordered the release of Manipur activist Erendro Leichombam on 19 July, two months after he was detained under the National Security Act (NSA) for his Facebook post criticising Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders for advocating cow dung and cow urine as a cure for COVID-19.
The bench comprising Justices MR Shah and DY Chandrachud said that Leichombam's continued detention "would be a violation of right to life and personal liberty under Article 21".
In an interview to The Quint, Leichombam opened up on what transpired and why he feels there's no room for dissent in Manipur.
"The first thing that came to my mind is that this is political vindictiveness because of my outspoken criticism of the BJP government in Manipur, especially the current chief minister."Erendro Leichombam
Why Was Leichombam Arrested?
Leichombam, along with journalist Kishorechandra Wangkhem, was arrested for their posts on Facebook following the death of former Manipur BJP President Professor Saikhom Tikendra Singh, who had succumbed to COVID-19 in May this year.
In his Facebook post, Leichombam had written, “The cure for Corona is not cow dung & cow urine. The cure is science & common sense. Professor ji RIP. (sic)”
The Supreme Court on 20 July asked the Manipur government to file its response within two weeks on granting compensation to Leichombam for his two-month-long detention.
On being asked why asking for compensation was critical, Leichombam told The Quint:
"Illegal detention should have some consequences, that accountability should be there. In a democracy, people may give you power, but if you misuse it then there should also be a question of accountability."
Three days after the SC order, the Manipur High Court on 23 July, while hearing a petition filed by Wangkhem's wife, ordered for his release from Imphal Central Jail.