Court orders release of journalist who criticised Indian government

Kishorchand Wangkhem [Photo: NewsClick]
Kishorchand Wangkhem [Photo: NewsClick]

An Indian court has ordered the release of a journalist sentenced to jail for allegedly criticising leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party on social media.

Kishorchand Wangkhem, who works in the north-eastern state of Manipur, was sentenced to 12 months prison for sedition under India’s National Security Act in December.

The Manipur High Court on Monday overturned the detention order, according to the judgment on the court website.

The judges set aside the government orders on grounds that local authorities had not provided the journalist copies of posts and videos uploaded by him.

The 39-year-old allegedly criticised N Biren Singh, Chief Minister of Manipur and BJP politician for holding celebrations on the birthday of the Rani – or queen – of Jhansi.

She was a 19th-century freedom fighter and a popular symbol of India’s independence movement under British rule.

Mr Wangkhem allegedly said the Rani had nothing to do with the state of Manipur, which is roughly 2000 kilometres to the east of where she was active.

He was alleged to have called Mr Singh a “puppet” for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP’s ideological parent, the right-wing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh movement.

Mr Wangkhem’s arrest was criticised by press associations in India and abroad.

According to the press freedom rankings by Reporters Without Borders, India ranks 138, below Algeria and Myanmar.

“Although I am extremely happy that my husband will soon be released, I am worried about the future.

”The people, who put my husband behind bars, are still in power,” Mr Wangkhem’s wife, Ranjeeta told the Indian Express daily.



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