RANJU DODUM | 17 FEBRUARY, 2019

Student Leader From Manipur Arrested Under Sedition for a FB Post, Whereabouts Unknown

Lawyers mull habeas corpus in Delhi High Court


NEW DELHI: On Friday evening at around 5.30 PM, Veewon Thokchom was reportedly taken into police custody under sedition charges. The details of his arrest and whereabouts since then, have been shrouded in mystery.

The student leader and activist from Manipur was allegedly arrested by personnel of the Manipur Police and Delhi Police, and taken to a police station in Janakpuri from his residence in Saket. The former president of the Manipur Students’ Association in Delhi (MSAD) was reportedly arrested in connection to a case registered at Imphal West over a Facebook post where he had criticised the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and reportedly made a call for ‘independence’ if the Bill was passed.

The controversial Bill was opposed by state governments across the board in the Northeast and lapsed as the Rajya Sabha session was adjourned.

Hearing of the arrest, student leaders from Manipur based in the national capital harried around to find out where he was being held. Police in Delhi denied any role in the arrest and concrete information from official channels has been lacking.

Damodar Arambam, a senior advisor to the MSAD, told The Citizen that officials have not shared any information about Thokchom’s whereabouts. However, he informed that they had learnt that Thokchom was to be produced in the Patiala House Court on Saturday. Together with lawyers from the Human Rights Law Network (HRLN), Arambam and others waited for Thokchom to be produced before the court.

“We waited for four to five hours but he wasn’t brought to Patiala House,” Arambam informed. He said that they later learnt that Thokchom was instead taken to the district court in Saket where the Manipur Police has sought a transit remand.

Shreeji Bhavsar of the HRLN informed that the lawyers network is mulling filing a habeas corpus in the Delhi High Court.

Thokchom is likely to be flown to Imphal on Sunday to be produced before a magistrate in Manipur.

He had earlier posted on Facebook that his parents were ‘threatened’ by police from Imphal East and West districts.

“This is just wow. Let’s see how long you can keep on going with this,” he had said of the police visit to his parents in Imphal.

This is the second known instance of a Facebook post landing someone in trouble in Manipur.

In November, Imphal-based journalist, Kishorchandra Wangkhem, was arrested twice for uploading a video on Facebook where he had criticised Manipur chief minister Biren Singh, and allegedly used seditious language.

Wangkhem was charged for using, what the official order said were, “words, terms and gesture used by the accused and the context in which they are used and the comment made by the accused cannot be termed seditious to attract offence under section 124-A IPC”.

The journalist has been in police custody since then.

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