Manipur journalist Kishorechandra Wangkhem
NEWS

‘Manipur scribe’s arrest a violation of freedom of expression’

Indian Journalists’ Union comes out in support of former ISTV staffer who was booked under NSA for hurling abuses at BJP & RSS, criticising CM in viral social media video

Imphal: Coming out in support of Manipuri journalist Kishorechandra Wangkhem, the Indian Journalists’ Union (IJU) has said that the detention of the former staffer of ISTV network under the National Security Act (NSA) totally violated the freedom of expression guaranteed under the Indian Constitution while also adding that it was a blatant misuse of the Act by the authorities.

The union demanded the state government to immediately revoke the detention order under NSA and ensure the unconditional release of Kishorechandra as his liberty would not in any way be detrimental to the security of the state and to the maintenance of public order.

As per a release signed by IJU secretary N Narender Reddy, the union strongly condemned the state government for grossly misusing the draconian Act to silence criticism. “The IJU will not tolerate the act of state authorities of setting a wrong precedent and sending a terse message across all that dissent,” it added.

In a statement, IJU president Amar Devulapalli and Press Council of India (PCI) member Amar Devulapalli and its secretary general, Sabina Inderjit, also asserted that Kishorechandra’s detention must be seen as an attack on the freedom of expression.

The detention is more objectionable as he was set free by the chief judicial magistrate a few days earlier quashing charge of sedition slapped on him by stating that the accused person transgressed beyond decent human conduct but it cannot be termed seditious, their statement added.

“Though IJU does not approve the vulgar and indecent terms used by Kishorechandra against the highest functionaries of the central and state governments, we want to point out that the freedom of expression includes the right to offend,” said the release.

The union has advised all the journalists not to use indecent and vulgar language in their comments and social media postings as harshest criticism couched in polite words is always more effective.

The IJU’s statement comes at a time when the All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union (AMWJU) earlier said that Kishorechandra acted in ‘utter disregard’ of the union's resolutions adopted at its standing committee meeting held in August this year.

It all started when Kishorechandra, a former staffer of the ISTV Network, uploaded a video in which he hurled abuses at the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) and the RSS. He was also heard criticising CM Singh over a function organised on the birth anniversary of Rani of Jhansi on November 19. He was arrested after the video went viral on social media.

Check out the video here:

Less than 24 hours after he was granted bail by a CJM court in West Imphal on November 26, following his arrest on November 20, Wangkhem was arrested again on November 27, this time under the NSA.