The Manipur Police on Monday booked journalist Kishorchandra Wangkhem and activist Erendro Leichombam under the National Security Act over their Facebook posts made after the death of the BJP state president where they had said the saffron party should now stop promoting cow urine as a cure for Covid-19.
An Imphal court had granted them bail earlier in the day, but before they could be released, the government invoked the National Security Act.
They were arrested on May 13 for a Facebook post on a complaint alleging that Wanghkem and Leichombam had insulted the Manipur Bharatiya Janata Party chief Saikhom Tikendra Singh, who had died of coronavirus-related complications on the same day, according to The Indian Express. The complaint was filed by state BJP Vice President Usham Deban Singh and General Secretary P Premananda Meetei.
In his Facebook post, Wangkhem wrote: “Santhi Sanyung na yadrabo, oh!!! RIP #Rashikang_Kangyet Hayeng nga chaani.” This roughly translates to: “Cow dung [and] cow urine didn’t work. Groundless argument. Tomorrow, I will eat fish”, according to EastMojo.
Meanwhile, Leichombam had said in his post that cow dung and urine were not a cure for the coronavirus and expressed condolences at the death of the BJP leader. “The cure is science & common sense,” he wrote.
In its order, the court had criticised the police and said that the police should not arrest someone under section 41 of the Criminal Procedure Code before they can “satisfy themselves” on the reasons behind the arrest. The section pertains to the arrests that the police may make without issuing a warrant. The court said the police should explain its reasons behind the arrest and warned that a failure to comply would call for departmental action and invoke contempt of court.
The police had earlier too in 2018 invoked the National Security Act against Wangkhem after he posted a Facebook video critical of Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Leichombam was also charged with sedition in July last year. He is a vocal critic of the current BJP dispensation in Manipur. He was arrested in 2018 for posting a video on Facebook that the police said amounted to “promoting enmity between different groups and criminal intimidation”.
Leichombam is the convenor of a Manipur-based political party, People’s Resurgence and Justice Alliance, which he had co-founded with activist Irom Sharmila in 2016 after she ended her 16-year-old fast for the removal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act from Manipur.