Journalist jailed after Modi Facebook post

Updated December 20, 2018

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39-year-old television journalist Kishorechandra Wangkhem is accused of posting an “inflammatory” social media video in November. — Photo courtesy India Today
39-year-old television journalist Kishorechandra Wangkhem is accused of posting an “inflammatory” social media video in November. — Photo courtesy India Today

NEW DELHI: An Indian journalist has been jailed for a year after he criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Facebook, in the latest example of what critics claim is a clampdown on free speech.

Kishorechandra Wangkhem was arrested last month in the state of Manipur under a draconian law that allows authorities to detain anyone for up to a year without trial.

The 39-year-old television journalist is accused of posting an “inflammatory” social media video in November, in which he accused Modi and state chief minister Biren Singh’s government of promoting rightwing Hindu ideology in the region.

Local media said he called Singh a “puppet” of Modi and of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a hardline Hindu group and ideological mentor of Modi’s ruling party.

Authorities said the arrest was made to “prevent him from acting in any matter prejudicial to the security of the state”.

Police had initially detained him on charges of sedition but he secured bail from a local court, which castigated him for using indecent language.

He was re-arrested days later under the stringent National Security Act before a government panel approved his year-long detention on Wednesday.

At least a dozen people have been arrested across the country this year over similar social media posts against Modi.

Published in Dawn, December 20th, 2018