Erendro Leichombam

Manipur activist Erendro Leichombam was arrested on May 13, 2021 and charged under the National Security Act (NSA).

Background

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Hindu nationalist party led by current Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has been strategically targeting Indian activists and journalists, specifically those critical of the Indian government, since it took power in 2014. The state uses laws like the National Security Act to detain people—as they did with Erendro Leichombam—without a formal charge or trial, according to The Indian Express.

Activists and human rights advocates have expressed grave concerns over the immense crackdown on free speech in India, according to Wired. After the COVID-19 pandemic, several people have been arrested by the Manipur government under the Disaster Management Act and some on sedition charges for speaking against the state’s handling of the pandemic, according to The Indian Express.

Life and Activism

Manipur activist Erendro Leichombam has previously been arrested for his sharp criticism of the BJP-led government in Manipur, according to The Wire. In May 2018, he was arrested for posting a video on Facebook, which the police claimed amounted to “promoting enmity between different groups and criminal intimidation.”

Leichombam has been continuously targeted because he has been questioning the government. He said, “This is not the first time that the police have come to my house. In the past two years, they have been coming a number of times, even for holding peaceful, democratic protests.” He was also arrested in November 2018 under the NSA for a YouTube video in which he criticized PM Modi and the RSS, according to The Wire. He was released in April 2019. A sedition case was also filed against Leichombam in August 2020 once again in relation to his Facebook page.

In May 2021, Erendro Leichombam and journalist Kishorechandra Wangkhem were arrested after the Manipur police received a complaint that they insulted Manipur BJP president Saikhom Tikendra Singh, who had contracted COVID-19, on a Facebook post, according to The Indian Express. Leichombam had written, “The cure for Corona is not cow dung & cow urine. The cure is science & common sense. Professor ji RIP.”

Upon posting this, an FIR was lodged against both Leichombam and Wangkhem under section 153-A (promoting enmity between groups)/505(b)(2) (making statement with an intent to incite and cause mischief) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Charges and Allegations

Leichombam was charged under the National Security Act (NSA).

Current Status

Erendro Leichombam was granted bail in July 2021 by the Supreme Court bench, according to The Indian Express. He would be granted bail upon paying a bond of Rs 1,000.

Last Update

Released from jail two months after his arrest

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