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regular-article-logo Monday, 15 July 2024

Father of Manipur activist arrested for post on cow dung moves SC

Following the death of the state BJP chief, Erendro Leichombam wrote on Facebook that cow urine and cow dung do not cure Covid

R. Balaji New Delhi Published 29.06.21, 01:46 AM
He has through a habeas corpus petition asked that his son, arrested on May 13, be produced before the top court.

He has through a habeas corpus petition asked that his son, arrested on May 13, be produced before the top court. Shutterstock

The father of a Manipur activist imprisoned for a Facebook post which said after the state BJP chief died that cow urine and cow dung do not cure Covid petitioned the Supreme Court on Monday challenging his son’s detention under the National Security Act and arguing it constituted contempt of court.

Raghumani Singh has underscored that his son Erendro Leichombam was arrested despite the apex court’s April 20 order saying citizens shall not be subjected to criminal cases or arrested for airing their views on social media relating to the Covid crisis.

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He has through a habeas corpus petition asked that his son, arrested on May 13, be produced before the top court.

Through a separate petition, he has sought contempt proceedings against Manipur chief secretary Rajesh Kumar, director-general of police L. M. Khaute and Imphal West district magistrate Th. Kirankumar.

Raghumani’s petition says that despite Erendro being granted bail by a trial court on May 17 in the original case, registered under Indian Penal Code sections, he was rearrested on the district magistrate’s order under the National Security Act. The NSA allows preventive detention for up to 12 months on grounds of the security of India and the maintenance of public order.

“Despite such protection offered by the Hon’ble Supreme Court to individuals seeking to help others in these times of need, respondent officers... in wilful disobedience of the aforementioned direction, wrongfully detained the son of petitioner herein owing to a particular Facebook post that sought to check misinformation regarding the pandemic,” the petition says.

Erendro had in a Facebook post on May 13 referred to the recent death of Manipur BJP chief S. Tikendra Singh and remarked: “The cure for Corona is not cow dung & cow urine. The cure is science & common sense. Professor ji RIP.”

This, Raghumani’s petition says, was in the context of several BJP politicians claiming cow dung and cow urine could cure or prevent Covid and many people coming to believe them. The petition refers to news reports about such statements by BJP leaders, including MP Pragya Singh Thakur.”

“Bolstered by such advice from leading political members, there were reports of people smearing cow dung and drinking cow urine to cure corona. In fact, in some places proper units were established which took to treating people with coronavirus using cow dung and cow urine,” the petition, filed through advocate Shadan Farasat, says.

However, multiple FIRs were lodged in various police stations in Manipur against Erendro’s post following complaints from BJP workers, including one on May 13 by state BJP vice-president Usham Deben.

The IPC sections invoked were 153A (promoting enmity between groups), 505(b)(2) (public mischief), 295A (outraging religious sentiments), 294B (obscenity), 503 (criminal intimidation) and 504 (breach of peace). If convicted, Erendro can be jailed for up to three years.

Erendro was initially remanded in judicial custody till June 1 but the chief judicial magistrate, Imphal West, granted him bail on May 17. The same day, the petition says, the district magistrate ordered his detention under Section 3(2) of the National Security Act, 1980.

Raghumani’s petition says the Facebook post was meant not to hurt anyone’s feelings but to express his son’s “disagreement with the treatment by using cow dung and cow urine which has no scientific basis”.

It says the detention “is a display of the coercive arm of the State against his attempt to stem misinformation in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic”.

Erendro is convener of the political outfit Peoples’ Resurgence and Justice Alliance.

A journalist, Kishorechandra Wangkhem, too was arrested on May 13 for a similar post and rearrested on May 17 under the NSA following the grant of bail.

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