Aribam Chaoba and Dhiren Sadokpam
HRDA has issued an urgent appeal to the National Human Rights Commission of India on January 27, 2021, regarding misuse of law, illegal detention, and sedition charges against senior journalists by Manipur police. Mr. Aribam Chaoba and Mr. Dhiren Sadokpam are senior journalists who work as Executive Editor and Editor with the online news portal The Manipur Frontier.
The Manipur Frontier published an article “Revolutionary in a mess” by Joy Luwang on January 8, 2021. The police personnel from the Singjamei police station came to the house of Mr. Chaoba at 8.30 AM on 17th January and called him to the west Imphal police station. When he reached the said police station, the officer in charge told him that he was under arrest but no memo or relevant order was served on him. An FIR (No 11(1) 21) was lodged at the Singjamei police station at 12. 30 PM against the editors of the news portal and the author of the article under various sections of the Indian Penal Code as well as section 39 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act stating that the article was an attempt to incite hatred and disaffection against the state. That evening Mr. Sadokpam was also summoned to the Singjamei police station and was detained there.
Both the journalists were released the next day at 6 PM after national outrage against their detention and issuance of a statement by the Editors Guild of India. The officer of the Singjamei police station informed the press that they were detained for questioning and were not arrested.
The article was previously published by other newspapers but no action was taken by the state police. It shows it is an act of political reprisal against the journalists who have been critical of the state government. It is also an assault against the freedom of speech by Manipur police. The case has not yet been closed and the journalists are living under the threat of further harassment and arrest.