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Imphal, Manipur:

Journalist Kishorechandra Wangkhem has been in detention since November 27, 2018, in Manipur under the draconian National Safety Act (NSA) for posting anti-BJP posts on Facebook. His FB posts had questioned the Manipur state government’s decision to celebrate the birth anniversary of Rani of Jhansi. According to the scroll, the detention order had claimed that the arrest was “with a view to prevent him from acting in any matter prejudicial to the security of the state and to the maintenance of public order”. He was also previously arrested in August because of his FB posts which got him into trouble with the authorities. In one of them, he had apparently abbreviated BJP as “Budhu Joker Party”.

There has been a string of instances where the government has used the Draconian law for political reasons against dissenting voices. The most prominent among them is how Bhim Army founder Chandrashekhar Azad was detained for ten months under the NSA act. In Uttar Pradesh, 160 Muslim men were arrested this year under the NSA. The UP government claimed that it was for maintaining law and order in the state. In another instance, NSA was used in Uttarakhand on two civil rights activists Jasodhara and Abhijit Dasgupta, for publishing a booklet titled AIDS aur Hum in 2000.

The NSA was introduced after it got the presidential assent in December 1980 under the tenure of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The act is defined as “an act to provide for preventive detention in certain cases and for matters connected therewith”. Preventive detention is the extrajudicial confinement of an individual without charges. It violates all rights like the presumption of innocence and limits fundamental rights of an Individual. The advocates of the preventive detention say it is necessary to prevent terrorism and other national crises. More than 14 lakh (14,57,779 ) persons have been arrested under preventive provisions in India according to 177th Law Commission Report of 2001. This count doesn’t include persons in preventive detention in Jammu and Kashmir. The NSA act gives both the state and the central government the power to detain anyone whom it sees as acting in a manner that is harmful to the defence of India.

Kishorechandra Wangkhem was arrested after he had posted three videos on Facebook, one of which was in English. All three videos were critical of the Manipur chief minister N. Biren Singh and Narendra Modi. In the video, he had vehemently protested against the Manipur government ’s decision to celebrate the birth anniversary of Rani of Jhansi and linking her to the freedom struggle.

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