On 19 May 2021, the Indigenous Rights Advocacy Centre (IRAC) filed a complaint against the re-arrest of two human rights defenders namely Kishorchandra Wangkhem (a journalist with ‘Frontline Manipur’ news portal) and Erendro Leichombam of Imphal after they were granted bail by the court in Imphal, Manipur on 17 May 2021.
As per media reports, Wangkhem and activist Leichombam were first arrested on 13 May 2021 for their allegedly derisive social media posts on state BJP chief S Tikendra Singh who died due to COVID-19. While extending their condolences they allegedly wrote that cow dung and cow urine were no cure for COVID-19. After state BJP leaders filed police complaint against Wangkhem and Leichombam, the police picked them up from their residences in Imphal.
The magistrate court granted them bail on 17 May 2021 but in gross abuse of the law, the state government booked them under draconian National Security Act, 1980 and re-arrested them. The National Security Act empowers the government to detain a person if the authorities are satisfied that he/she is a threat to national security or to prevent him/her from disrupting public order. A person can be detained for up to 12 months without a charge.
In its complaint communication, the Indigenous Rights Advocacy Centre (IRAC) has requested the immediate intervention of the National Human Rights Commission to direct the state government of Manipur to drop the charges under the draconian National Security Act and release both the human rights defenders immediately and submit a report to the NHRC within two weeks;