Manipur activist charged with sedition over FB post on meeting between Amit Shah, RS MP

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Political activist Erendro Leichombam has been charged with sedition for a Facebook post on a meeting between newly-elected Rajya Sabha member from Manipur Leishemba Sanajaoba and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, police sources said on Wednesday.

Leichombam shared a photo on July 24 that showed Sanajaoba, the titular king of Manipur, bowing before Shah with his hands folded, and captioned it “Minai Macha” in Meitei that translates to “servant’s son”.

A case was registered on Tuesday against Leichombam under IPC sections 153 A (promoting enmity between different groups) 124 A (sedition) and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief), police sources said.

An investigation is underway in the matter, they said, refusing to divulge details.

The photo was clicked when Sanajaoba, a BJP leader, met Shah at his residence during a visit to the national capital recently.

Police went to Leichombam’s Thangmeiband residence on July 26 but he was not there, his family members said.

Officials then informed them about the charges pressed against him and said they were invoked because of his Facebook post, they said.

“I have been charged with sedition by the government for exercising my freedom of speech. To protect Kangleipak from forceful assimilation is a duty,” he later posted on Facebook.

Kangleipak is the native name of the state.

Leichombam contested the Manipur elections in 2016 from the Thangmeiband constituency after he co-founded the Peoples’ Resurgence and Justice Alliance outfit along with activist Irom Sharmila.

They founded the party and fought the polls after Sharmila broke her 16-year fast for the removal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act from Manipur, but they could not win.

Hitting out at the BJP government over the sedition charges, Leichombam said in a Facebook post earlier in the day that the chief minister was a “puppet of Hindutva colonialism”.

“MK Gandhi, Tilak, Arundhati Roy & Hijam Irabot. Today, I proudly join them. Sedition 124 (a) is a colonial law. Birenji is a puppet of Hindutva Colonialism (sic),” he wrote, criticising Chief Minister N Biren Singh.

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

Police had asked him to take down the video, which he refused and was accordingly booked for allegedly promoting enmity between different groups.

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