Manipur editor Dhanabir Maibam was granted bail by an Imphal court on Sunday three days after he was arrested following a report by his newspaper about the deterioration in the law and order situation in the border town of Moreh in Tengnoupal district in October, reported The Times of India.

Maibam, the editor of Meitei language daily Hueiyen Lanpao, was arrested on January 5 on charges of promoting enmity between the communities of the state.

He was booked under sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion), 505 (publishing report containing rumour or alarming news), 120 (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code and provisions of the Official Secrets Act, 1923, Imphal West Superintendent of Police Shivakanta Singh told Scroll.

Manipur has been gripped by ethnic violence between the Meitei and Kuki communities since early May. Over 200 people have been killed since the conflict broke out and nearly 67,000 persons have been forced to flee their homes.

The action against Maibam came a week after the Manipur Police arrested another journalist Wangkhemcha Shyamjai for allegedly promoting enmity between communities in the state. Shyamjai, the editor of the newspaper Kangleipakki Meira, was booked on the basis of a complaint by state Bharatiya Janata Party Vice President Laishram Meenabanta Singh. He was released on December 31.

Several women’s groups, including Apunba Meira Paibi of Mayang Imphal, Thawai Mirel and the Universal Mothers’ Organisation, had protested the police action against journalists in the conflict-riddled state.

Congress’ Manipur chief Keisham Meghachandra also criticised Maibam’s arrest and demanded that the journalist be released immediately.

“There is no freedom of speech for journalists in Manipur,” Meghachandra said in a social media post. “This is a repeated action of police to harass journalists and media persons.”

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