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Manipur activist charged with sedition over Facebook post

IANS | July 30, 2020 11:57 AM

IMPHAL:A 36-year-old political activist has been charged with sedition for posting a photograph on Facebook which had a photo of the meeting between Union Home Minister and newly-elected Rajya Sabha member from Manipur, police said on Wednesday.

Erendro Leichombam, a co-convener of a Manipur-based political party -- People's Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA), posted a photo on July 24 on his Facebook that showed newly elected Rajya Sabha member Leishemba Sanajaoba, bowing down before Union Home Minister Amit Shah with his hands folded, and captioned it "Minai Macha" in Meitei language that interprets to "servant's son".

Police sources said that an FIR was registered on Tuesday against Leichombam under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

"The IPC sections included in the case are 153 A (promoting enmity between different groups and vilification), 124 A (sedition) and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief), " the sources said adding that a probe is now underway.

The photo was taken when Sanajaoba, the titular king of Manipur turned a BJP leader, met Shah at the latter's residence in Delhi recently.

Sanajaoba was elected to the Rajya Sabha last month.

A police team went to Leichombam's residence at Thangmeiband, on the outskirts of Imphal, but he was not available at that time.

However, Leichombam on Tuesday night again posted in his Facebook: "I have been charged with sedition by the government for exercising my freedom of speech. To protect Kangleipak from forceful assimilation is a duty. Chief Minister (N. Biren Singh) was a 'puppet' of Hindutva colonialism. Sedition 124 (A) is a colonial law. I will continue to post in my Facebook."

Kangleipak is the native name of erstwhile princely state of Manipur.

Leichombam unsuccessfully fought the Manipur assembly elections in 2017 after he co-founded the PRJA along with rights activist Irom Sharmila after she broke her 16-year long fast for the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act from Manipur.

A Harvard University graduate on economic policy, Leichombam was arrested in 2018 for posting a video on Facebook containing provocative speeches.

Police had then asked him to remove the video from the social media but he refused and was booked for allegedly promoting enmity between different groups.

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