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Manipur Journalists booked under UAPA, sedition charges

IMPHAL: The Manipur police have booked the editors of an online news portal- The Frontier Manipur on Sunday, for sedition and criminal conspiracy over an article published on January 8.

The editors have further been accused of “supporting a terrorist organisation” under the amended Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

According to a police statement, a case under the Unlawful Atrocities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and Section 124A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code has been filed against the journalists- Paojel Chaoba and Dhiren Sadokpam along with M. Joy Luwang, the author of an article published in The Frontier Manipur.

M Joy Luwang, who wrote the article headlined “Revolutionary journey in a mess”, has also been charged under the same sections. The piece is a critical indictment of Manipur’s many armed groups who have waged an armed secessionist movement since the 1960s. In the article, Luwang accused the groups of “falling prey to the Indian government’s design of breaking their backbones” and not living up to the “revolutionary” ideals they were formed with.

He further wrote that the armed groups were falling for low-hanging fruits. For instance, the celebration of inclusion of Manipuri as one of the scheduled languages of India “by begging” was “one of the saddest memories”, he wrote. “It showed how people hanker after colonial laws.”

In the FIR, the Manipur Police have claimed that the author “openly endorsed revolutionary ideologies and activities and expressed shock at the deteriorating character of the armed revolutionaries of Manipur in the last decade”.

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Luwang has been accused of urging people of the state to become “true revolutionaries” and preaching about how they should behave.
According to the police, the article was an “attempt to bring hatred, contempt, and feeling of enmity against rule of law” which could incite the public to “commit an offense against the state thereby posing serious threats of internal security issues”.

“His article clearly expressed sympathy and support to the ideologies and activities of the armed revolutionary groups and outrightly called the rule of law of the Union government and Centre as colonial law,” the FIR said.

Though the same article was published earlier in Imphal Times and Kangla Pao, these news publications have not been named in the FIR. While the article in Kangla Pao was published in Meitelion in October 2020, the same report was published in Imphal Times on January 3.

The Manipur police have charged several people, including journalists, under sedition in the last few years for their social media posts.

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