- Kishore Chandra Wangkhem was arrested under the National Security Act
- He had called Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh PM Modi's "puppet"
- "Another attempt to use state machinery to silence dissent": Rahul Gandhi
After taking on the Centre over the Meghalaya coal mine rescue operation last month, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi has sent a strongly worded letter condemning the detention of Imphal-based journalist Kishore Chandra Wangkhem , under the National Security Act.
"This is another attempt to use the state machinery to silence dissent. Over the past few months, we have witnessed the BJP government's design to trample on constitutional rights of the people of Manipur," Mr Gandhi said in his letter to the journalist.
Trying to link this incident to the larger national narrative, the Congress chief pointed out that the "regressive forces continue to unleash violence with impunity, while those who seek accountability from the state are being jailed."
"Fascist forces have not only attempted to destroy the idea of India but attack anyone who challenges their distorted narrative", said Mr Gandhi's letter.
The journalist, who was an anchor with a local channel in Imphal, was sentenced to one-year detention under the NSA in December, nearly a month after he was taken into custody for allegedly targeting the ruling BJP government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a social media post.
According to the Manipur government, 39-year-old Kishore Chandra Wangkhem was initially detained on November 27, to "prevent him from acting in any matter prejudicial to the security of the state and maintenance of public order". The reason for his detention was a Facebook video that showed him criticising Chief Minister N Biren Singh as well as PM Modi.
The video, reportedly, had the journalist calling the Chief Minister a "puppet" of PM Modi. The journalist had also criticized the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS for organising a function meant to mark the birth anniversary of Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi. Mr Wangkhem alleged that the Rani of Jhansi had nothing to do with Manipur. He had even dared the government to arrest him, say sources.
"Don't betray, don't insult the freedom fighters of Manipur," the journalist had said in one of the posts, which the government sees as a propaganda of the militant groups. Mr Wangkhem's family has challenged the detention under NSA in Manipur High Court.