‘State machinery’s attempt to silence dissent’: Rahul Gandhi writes to jailed Manipuri journalist who targeted PM Modi

New Delhi: Congress chief Rahul Gandhi has written a letter to Manipuri journalist Kishorechandra Wangkhem, who was booked under the National Security Act two months ago for targeting Chief Minister N Biren Singh and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his social media post.

Rahul Gandhi, in a letter directed to the journalist, wrote, “This is another attempt to use the state machinery to silence dissent. Over the past few months, we have witnessed the BJP government’s design to trample on constitutional rights of the people of Manipur.”

Trying to bring in the incident to the national front, Congress’ scion Rahul Gandhi pointed out that “regressive forces continue to unleash violence with impunity, while those who seek accountability from the state are being jailed.”

Taking a jibe at the saffron forces and the right-wing ideology, Rahul Gandhi wrote, “Fascist forces have not only attempted to destroy the idea of India but attack anyone who challenges their distorted narrative.”

On November 21, 2018, Imphal-based Kishorechandra, then working as an anchor-reporter with ISTV, a local news channel, was arrested by Imphal West Police in response to a video he uploaded on social media, criticising the BJP-led state government. In Meitei language, he severely condemned the state chief minister N. Biren Singh for organising a function to commemorate the fight of the Rani of Jhansi against the British and linking it to the freedom movement of Manipur.

The journalist has been sentenced to a 12-month jail term – the maximum period of detention allowed under the NSA.

The Indian Journalists Union and the Press Council of India had earlier condemned Kishorechandra’s detention and demanded his release.

“My voice is very vocal, so the government is trying to silence me, trying to gag my voice so that I can’t speak against it. But I want to say that this is a democratic country and we have every right to speak out. Why it is going after me is because in the run-up to the 2019 general elections, I might be speaking against them in a louder voice. But I will fight till I am released. Every one, wake up, don’t be afraid, join me in it – that’s my call to the people of Manipur,” the journalist had said after being jailed.