Kishorechandra Wangkhem and Erendro Leichombam
Journalist and HRD
HRDA has issued an urgent appeal to the National Human Rights Commission of India on June 4, 2021, regarding fabricated charges under the National Security Act against HRDs for posting on social media on the inefficacy of cow dung and cow urine in the treatment of COVID-19. Mr. Wangkhem is a journalist with the Manipur Frontier and Mr. Leichombam is an HRD and political activist with the PRAJA party.
The state BJP president succumbed to COVID-19 on May 13, 2021. On the same day evening, Mr. Wangkhem and Mr. Leichombam put up posts on their Facebook accounts that stated that cow dung and cow urine were not cures for COVID-19.
The BJP state unit immediately filed an FIR against both at Imphal police station for their Facebook posts. The police barged into their houses physically assaulting the HRDs and threatening their families. An FIR was filed against both the HRDs on May 14, 2021, for deliberately insulting and outraging the Hindu religion and promoting ill will and enmity amongst people.
They were produced before the Chief Judicial Magistrate on May 16, 2021, and were released by the court. However, before completing the release formalities, the police slapped additional changes including National Security Act against the HRDs on May 17, and sent them to jail.
The arrest of the HRDs for a Facebook post violates the freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under article 19 of the Indian Constitution. No arrest memo or paper was given while the police picked them up from their homes, which violates the DK Basu guidelines. It also violates Article 19 of the United Declaration of Human Rights which mandates freedom of opinion and expression.