Journalist Kishorechandra Wangkhem, who was detained under the National Security Act last month, has been sentenced to one year in jail under the law. The term is the maximum under the law. Wangkhem’s lawyer told Scroll.in that his family will challenge his sentencing on Wednesday.
Wangkhem was detained on November 27 “with a view to prevent him from acting in any matter prejudicial to the security of the state and to the maintenance of public order”, according to a government order. About a week before his detention, Wangkhem was arrested by the Manipur Police for posting a video critical of Chief Minister N Biren Singh and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Facebook.
In the video, Wangkhem had lashed out at Singh, calling him a “puppet of Modi and Hindutva” for organising a function in Manipur on November 19 to mark the birth anniversary of Lakshmibai, the Rani of Jhansi, who he claimed had “nothing to do with Manipur”. “Do you have any sense of Manipuri nationalism?” he asked in the video. “If you don’t, don’t talk rubbish.” On several occasions during the video, Wangkhem used expletives for Modi and Singh. “Come and arrest me,” he said.
The advisory board of National Security Act, set up to examine allegations made by the state government against the journalist, met on December 11 and conducted hearings on the matter. On December 13, the board approved his detention under the Act, The Wire reported.
The journalist’s wife, Ranjita Elangbam, said she had appealed to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs to reconsider its order. “Hopefully, it should come in a day or two,” Elangbam said.
Local news channel ISTV has reportedly sacked him for posting the video, The Wire reported.
On December 3, the Indian Journalists’ Union had condemned his detention and described it as a “blatant misuse” of the legislation, NorthEast Now reported. The All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union, however, said it has not spoken about Wangkhem’s detention because of a resolution it had passed in August on matters related to the National Security Act, The Indian Express reported.