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Manipur journalist sentenced to 1-yr jail term for criticising BJP, PM Modi

The journalist’s arrest under NSA has led to a political slugfest between the ruling BJP and the Congress in the state.

SNS | Imphal |

A Manipur-based journalist was sentenced to one-year jail term on Wednesday for allegedly criticising BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on social media.

Kishorechand Wangkhem was arrested under the National Security Act (NSA) last month for allegedly uploading videos criticising the BJP-led governments in Manipur and the Centre for observing Rani Jhansi’s birth anniversary.

Wangkhem is a journalist of a local TV channel and the videos which he had uploaded on November 19 in both English and Meitei were not related to his official work, officials said.

In his video clips, Wangkhem had purportedly said he was saddened and shocked to learn that the present government in Manipur was observing the birth anniversary of Rani of Jhansi, according to media reports.

He reportedly said Rani of Jhansi’s deeds had nothing to do with Manipur and the state was observing her birth anniversary because the Centre had asked it to.

In this context, he allegedly called Biren Singh a “puppet of the Centre” and a “puppet of Hindutva”, the reports said. The chief minister had claimed that it was being done as she had played a role in the unification of India.

Wangkhem was arrested on November 20.

The chief judicial magistrate’s court had granted him bail on Monday, but he was arrested the following day under the NSA and sent to jail.

An order issued by the district magistrate of West Imphal on Tuesday had said Wangkhem was detained under Section 3(2) of the NSA till further orders.

Wangkhem’s wife, E Ranjita, has claimed that she had come to know about his arrest only on Thursday. She appealed to the government to release her husband, saying there was no reason for his arrest under the NSA.

The court had ruled that his remarks were an expression of opinion against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh and could not be termed seditious.

The journalist’s arrest under NSA has led to a political slugfest between the ruling BJP and the Congress in the state. Defending Wangkhem’s arrest, BJP spokesperson Ch Bijoy claimed he was arrested not for a single crime and he had been remanded in judicial custody in the past too.

Congress spokesperson Kh Joykishan has challenged the state government to arrest him too if it was determined to put all the citizens who speak against it behind bars.

(With PTI inputs)