Erendro Leichombam. Image Courtesy: Facebook
Political activist Erendro Leichombam was 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 told PTI on Wednesday.
Leichombam shared a photo on July 24 which 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”.
The news agency reported that a case was registered on Tuesday, July 28, against Leichombam under Sections 153 A (promoting enmity between different groups) 124 A (sedition) and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) of the Indian Penal Code, according to police sources.
An investigation is underway in the matter, police sources told the agency, refusing to divulge further details.
Leichombam is the convenor of a political part by the name of People’s Resurgence and Justice Alliance. In 2016, he had co-founded the party with Irom Sharmila after the latter ended her 16-year fast in opposition to the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.
The police had been to his home in Thangmeiband, Imphal, on July 26 and informed his family that the charges were a result of his Facebook posts. The family told the website that that the police referred to a picture he had posted on July 24 about Leishemba.
The photo was clicked when Sanajaoba, a BJP leader, met Shah at his residence during a visit to the national capital recently.
“I have been charged with sedition by the government for exercising my freedom of speech. To protect Kangleipak from forceful assimilation is a duty. I will not stop writing. You can't gag all your critics. Some of us still love our homeland. You can imprison my body, but how will you imprison my mind?” he later posted on Facebook. Kangleipak is the native name of the state.
Leichombam contested the Manipur elections in 2016 from the Thangmeiband constituency.
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 Hinduvta 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 Hinduvta 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.
With inputs from PTI