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‘We Are Very Worried’: Wife Of Indian Journalist Jailed Over ‘Anti-BJP’ Posts

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On November 27 last year, Kishorechandra Wangkhem was arrested by the Indian police from his home over ‘anti-Bharatiya Janata Party’ Facebook posts. During the raid at his residence, the police had told Wangkhem’s wife that “Nothing is going to happen, don’t worry.”

But months later, Ranjita Elangbam says she is ‘very. very worried’ for her husband. “He’s being very brave and confident. He’s trying to console me, and telling me everything will be all right. But we are worried. Very, very worried. And my elder daughter keeps asking, Where’s my papa disappeared?” she told BBC.

Wangkhem had posted four videos and comments on his Facebook page on 19 November, in which he criticized BJP and called Manipur chief minister a ‘puppet’ of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Police officer K Bobby said that he came across the journalist’s posts which he considered to “bring or attempt to bring into hatred or contempt”.

Six days after his arrest, Wangkhem was produced before the magistrate by the police for extension of remand. However, the judge dismissed the police’s plea and set the journalist free because the judge considered his posts as ‘freedom of expression and opinion’.

Frustrated by the courts, the police issued a fresh detention order the very next day, and arrested Mr Wangkhem. This time, using the draconian national security law, which has been often used by the Indian government to curb freedom of speech.

“All this is nothing but an official abuse of power by the government and an attack on free speech,” Chongtham Victor, Wangkhem’s lawyer told media.

In January 2018, the Uttar Pradesh government released a report saying that it had detained 160 people under the National Security Act within a year of Yogi Adityanath becoming chief minister.

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