Fri. Jun 18th, 2021

Imphal-based journalist Kishore Chandra Wangkhemm and social activist Erendro Leichambam, who were arrested last week, have now been charged with the stringent National Security Act (NSA) over their Facebook posts.

The duo was arrested last week, on Thursday, May 13, and sent to judicial custody till Sunday. They are facing charges for their posts calling out those advocating cow dung and urine as a cure for COVID-19. The posts came following the death of the BJP state president Saikhom Tikendra Singh due to the virus.

Both were granted bail by the Imphal court earlier in the day, but the government invoked NSA. They have been detained under section 3 (2) of NSA, 1980 until further orders by the court.

Both were arrested over a complaint filed by state BJP Vice President Usham Deben Singh and General Secretary P Premananda Meetei, alleging that Wanghkem and Leichombam had insulted Singh, who died of the COVID complications.

In his post, Wangkhem wrote: “Santhi Sanyung na yadrabo, oh!!! RIP #Rashikang_Kangyet Hayeng Nga Chaani.” (Cow dung, cow urine didn’t work. Groundless argument. Tomorrow I will eat fish.)

Leichombam wrote: “The cure for corona is not cow dung and cow urine. The cure is science and common sense. Professor ji RIP.”

The court had criticised the police, over arrested someone under section 41 of the Criminal Procedure Code without a valid reason. The court had asked the police the reason behind the arrest, failing which they would have to comply with departmental action and contempt of court, reported Scroll.in.

The posts reportedly referred to pictures and videos by news agency Reuters that reported that a group of right-wing activists promoted cow dung and urine as COVID-19 cure, despite no scientific research to back it up.

For the 41-year-old Wangkhem, this is the second time facing the law. The state government, in 2018, had pressed charges of sedition against him under the NSA for a social media post criticising Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh.

Leichombam was charged with sedition last year in July for criticising the state government. He was arrested in 2018 for posting a video on Facebook, that according to the police ‘promoted enmity between different groups and criminal intimidation, the media reported.

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