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Manipur Journo, Detained Under NSA for Facebook Post, Released From Jail

Manipur High Court had said that his detention would be as much a "violation of Article 21 of the Constitution."

Updated
India
2 min read
<div class="paragraphs"><p>Manipur journalist Kishorechandra Wangkhem.&nbsp;</p></div>
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Journalist Kishorechandra Wangkhem was on Friday, 23 July, released from Imphal Central Jail.

This comes after Manipur High Court had, earlier in the day, directed his interim release, saying, as per Bar and Bench, that his detention would be as much a "violation of Article 21 of the Constitution."

Wangkhem had been detained under the National Security Act (NSA) for a post on his Facebook wall after a BJP leader died due to COVID, commenting that “cow dung, cow urine did not work."

This comes a day after his wife, Ranjita Elangbam, wrote a letter to the Manipur High Court, demanding the immediate release of the scribe. While hearing the petition, the bench ordered the release of Wangkhem by 5 pm on Friday.

Elangbam's letter came a day after political activist Erendro Leichombam, who had been booked under the same charges, was released from jail following an order from the Supreme Court.

The letter-petition filed by Elangbam, was addressed to the Chief Justice, and other judges of the Manipur High Court, stating that while both Erendro Leichombam and Kishorechandra Wangkhem were arrested on the same grounds under NSA, the Supreme Court has ordered the release of Leichombam, while Wangkhem continues to languish in jail.

The Case

Journalist Kishorechandra Wangkhem and activist Erendro Leichombom had been arrested in May over their posts on Facebook, which criticised the endorsement of cow dung and cow urine as cures for COVID-19. The posts had been made 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, Wangkhem wrote: “Cow dung, cow urine didn’t work. Groundless argument. Tomorrow I will eat fish."

Leichombam had written: “The cure for Corona is not cow dung & cow urine. The cure is science & common sense. Professor ji RIP. (sic)”

The two were then arrested on 13 May after an FIR was filed on the basis of a complaint by the state BJP vice president Usham Deban and general secretary P Premananda Meetei.

On 17 May, when a district court granted them bail, they were both slapped with NSA.

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What SC Had Said

While ordering the release of Leichombam, the Supreme Court had observed that continued detention of the petitioner would amount to a "violation of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution."

Meanwhile, Advocate Chongtham Victor representing Wangkhem, said that the release order has been passed and the issue of compensation for unlawful detention will be adjudicated by the High Court on 24 August.

(With inputs from LiveLaw)

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