Imphal: Manipur journalist Kishorechandra Wangkhem and political activist Erendro Leichombam have been charged with the stringent National Security Act (NSA) despite bail.
Both Wangkhem and Leichombam have been detained, said lawyer Chongtham Victor, who represented the duo in court.
They were arrested on Thursday last week and sent to police custody till Sunday following a complaint filed against them by BJP general secretary P Premananda Meetei and BJP vice-president Usham Deban based on their Facebook posts following the death of Manipur BJP president Prof Saikhom Tikendra Singh.
In an order issued on Monday, Imphal West District Magistrate Th Kirankumar stated that Wangkhem, 41, and Leichombam, 40, who are now in police custody, are likely to be “released on bail in the near future” and that, they would “resume activities which are prejudicial to the security of the state and for maintenance of public order on being released on bail” and that therefore, “they should be prevented from the commission such prejudicial activities through an alternative preventive measure”.
While exercising the powers conferred under sub-section-3 of Section 3 of the NSA, 1980, the district magistrate further ordered Wangkhem and Leichombam to be detained under section 3(2) of the NSA, 1980 until further notice, as and when they are released on bail.
Wangkhem and Leichombam were earlier arrested by Manipur police over their post on Facebook commenting on how cow dung and cow urine will not cure COVID-19. Their post on social media followed the death of Manipur BJP president Saikhom Jitendra Singh due to COVID-19.
Their comments on social media did not go down well with the ruling party in the state, which led to their arrest after a formal complaint was filed against them by BJP general secretary Wangkheimayum Chourjit Singh based on their Facebook posts.
An FIR was lodged against them under section 153-A/505(b)(2) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
In his Facebook post, Wangkhem wrote: “Santhi Sanyung na yadrabo, oh!!! RIP #Rashikang_Kangyet Hayeng nga chaani (rough translation: Cow dung cow urine didn’t work. Groundless argument. Tomorrow I will have fish).”
Meanwhile, another post was uploaded on Facebook by Leichombam and the post read: “The cure for Corona is Not cow dung & cow Urine. The cure is science and common Sense. Professor ji RIP”.
“We will file a representation to the Union government and other stakeholders and we will try to dispose of the case judiciously,” said their lawyer Victor.
“They are just making statements on cow dung and cow urine and those words are being used by many people and not just by them. So simply reciprocating to those words or statements and slapping NSA to this extent, which is a draconian law, will not be a nice episode in the history of India,” he said.
Earlier, before the NSA was slapped against Wangkhem and Leichombam, the chief judicial magistrate (CJM) of Imphal West, Y Somorjit Singh, on Monday had released the duo on bail on a PR bond of Rs 50,000 with a surety bond of a similar amount under certain conditions.
The conditions were as follows: “They shall not repeat a similar offence in the future; they shall make themselves available for interrogation by the Investigation Officer as and when required; they shall not commit any similar offence in the future. If the accused commits similar offence in future no leniency will be given by the court; they shall not leave the state of Manipur without prior permission of the court till trial is over and they shall not temper or threat the witnesses or the complainant respectively.”