The Manipur High Court on Monday ordered the release of journalist Kishorchandra Wangkhem, who was detained under the National Security Act. Wangkhem was arrested on sedition charges on November 21 for posting a Facebook video critical of Chief Minister N Biren Singh and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
He was booked under the National Security Act on November 27, and on December 13, a board set up to decide on such detentions approved a 12-month jail term for him. On December 20, Wangkhem moved the High Court against his detention.
The High Court said that the detaining authority had not supplied to Wangkhem the copies of Facebook posts and compact disc containing the videos uploaded by him. This prevented the journalist from making an effective representation against the detention order, the court said in its order.
As the detention order was quashed on this ground, the High Court did not proceed to examine other arguments raised in the petition, Live Law reported.
“We need to get certain signatures from the state administration which may take two to three days,” Wangkhem’s wife Ranjita Elangbam told The Wire from Imphal. “After that, he would be released from the Sajiwa jail.”
Wangkhem has been ill since March, and has been admitted to the government-owned Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences in Imphal.
Elangbam said the doctors at the hospital had asked her to take a photograph of the prescription from the jailer. “We learnt from the hospital that his sugar level was very high at 534 after the meal and therefore, the doctors wanted a special diet for him,” she was quoted as saying. However, Elangbam said, the police officials accompanying Wangkhem said they were unsure whether a special diet could be provided.
After Wangkhem was re-arrested, he had lashed out against the government. “My detention under NSA is arbitrary,” he told the media. “The allegations levelled against me are baseless, they are trying to stop me from raising my voice against the government. I will fight till my last breath at the High Court or the Supreme Court to get justice.”
In February, Congress President Rahul Gandhi wrote to Wangkhem, offering his support. Gandhi said the BJP government in the state had tried to “trample on the Constitutional rights of the people of Manipur” over the last few months.