For the first time when the Bharatiya Janata Party government was formed in Manipur, it was like seeing the light at the mouth of the dark tunnel for many. The government took many steps in the beginning which created confidence in the people of Manipur, for example, the establishment of an anti-corruption unit, the Chief Minister met poor, deprived people once a month and started listening to their complaints.
Soon the first failure of the government came to light when the controversy of Manipur University started. The academic session was delayed 4 months due to the protests. The protesters demanded that VC AP Pandey be sacked. The scope of the protest spread very much when the government allowed the police to enter and take action in the university campus at midnight. Students and teachers were arrested.
However, this dispute did not escalate as he was soon released. This peace did not last long. The second front of confrontation soon opened when the government started targeting the general public who criticized the BJP and the Chief Minister on social media. Kishorechandra Wagkhem, a journalist from Manipur, became its first victim. He shared a photo of a rally on Facebook and questioned the peace system allegedly established in Manipur University. He wrote that the rally was organized by BJP. He called BJP a “foolish clown party”.
On this occasion, he was arrested for the first time. Local media of Manipur opposed this and organized a protest march till the Chief Minister’s residence. The President of All Manipur Working Journalists Association apologized to the Chief Minister on behalf of Kishore Chandra. Even after this, he was sent to judicial custody for five days.
Perhaps this is the reason why the local media of Manipur kept silence when Kishore Chandra was arrested for the second time. When the powerful government machinery was busy trying to implicate Kishore Chandra in the case of treason, our confidence in the judicial system was strengthened, the judge released him. However, this happiness also proved to be of short duration. He was arrested for the third time within 24 hours. This time he was arrested under the National Security Act. It simply meant that no one can stop the government from doing its own arbitrariness and now Kishorechand can be kept in jail for at least 12 months. 365 days in jail, this is a punishment for criticizing a government.
This is the first time when the BJP-led Manipur government and its chief minister are getting so much attention and attention in the national media. The local media here is only free to talk sweet and good things about the government. Salute to the national media that gave the other side a place.
Recently India Today conducted a poll in which the ranking of Chief Ministers across the country was decided. In this, Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh was declared the third best Chief Minister out of 23. The local media of Manipur celebrated its celebrations as if it had got the third ranking.
This period of celebration lasted until N Biren Singh was removed from the third position in this list. India Today poll was still going on. Director of the program Rahul Kanwal announced in the eighth episode that N Biren Singh has been removed from the list as the popularity of chief ministers of big and comparatively small states cannot be compared among themselves.
This news was published in Imphal Free Press. And in return, a case of criminal defamation was filed against him. This case is pending in court.
It is safest to say that everyone knows how much the Chief Minister’s popularity is. The important question is why the state government is attacking the constitutional rights of the common people to speak and express themselves. There is no logical answer to this. Perhaps they are confused. The intoxication of power has corrupted their minds and made them shameless. Instead of giving protection to the underprivileged, they themselves became oppressive.
Also, how will the top leadership of BJP take up this issue? Are such arbitrary arrests in his interest? Will he get votes in the next elections with this step? Will people praise BJP for silencing the media? Former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju has called Biren Singh a ‘Little Dictator’. Is it legitimate to impose national security law on a journalist?
This act is being criticized that the common man cannot utter a single word on social media, it is possible to arrest. The Chief Minister does not need to run his mind, but needs to run so that democracy will continue to flourish in Manipur. Kishore Chandra’s issue may prove to be his Waterloo.