Log in

Veewon Thokchom arrest sparks criticism from across students’ communities and Rights Bodies

IT News

New Delhi, Feb 16,

Right activists and students from the North East state of Manipur along with members of the MSAD has been waiting at Patiala House Court waiting for student leader Thokchom Veewon who was picked up by a police team from his rented room at Saket around 5.30 pm yesterday.

The former MSAD President was arrested under charges of Sedition (Sect 124 (A)  IPC).

Unaware of his whereabouts till early morning on Saturday, his family and friends feared he would be presented before a magistrate in Imphal, not New Delhi, as the protocol mandates.

Veewon’s brother and sister were at home at the time of his arrest. As per reported from Delhi his sister was given the special cell address and two contact number by the cops who came in civil dress.

“The cops at the Special cell told us that the Manipur police took him away and they do not know where he is and gave us two phone numbers. When I called up the number they gave us, the Manipur police personnel said he cannot disclose the location for security reasons”, Veewon sister told activists and media persons..

According to Venus, brother of Veewon,, there’s a clear attempt to conduct the entire procedure in Manipur.

“A Sub-inspector of the Manipur police told me that if he can be presented in Manipur within 24 hours, then he doesn’t have to be produced in Delhi,” he added.

The police team also seized Veewon’s laptop and mobile phone at the time of arrest.

The former President of Manipur Students’ Association Delhi was picked up from his residence in Saket at 5.30 pm by four police personnel, two of whom were from Manipur police. A case under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code was registered at Lamlai police station (Imphal West) for a Facebook post criticising the recently lapsed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016. Thokchom’s friends and family say that he was picked up by the police without an arrest warrant.

Veewon was scheduled to be produced at Patiala House Court at 11 am but again postponed at 2.00 pm. Manipuri students and supporters from across the country waited till he was produced. Human Rights Law Network members are already present for his bail application at the court since 11 am.

As he was not produced in the court till 2 pm Veewon supporters moved to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate under  Section 97 of CrPC requesting him to search for Veewon as he is not produced before the Magistrate till 2 pm. As per a report in a web portal Javed Mehdi, Thokchom’s friend and fellow student leader, alleged that the state Chief Minister Biren Singh directed the state police to raid Thokchom’s home in Imphal on February 12, the day when the controversial Bill was listed for consideration and passing in the Rajya Sabha.

“That day, he put up a post on Facebook speaking against the Bill and called the CM ‘a puppet of New Delhi’. The police told his family that they had come on the direction of the Home Minister,” he said. Thokchom’s Facebook account was deactivated hours after his arrest although it isn’t clear on whose behest. Mehdi says that the police had similarly paid a visit to his family residence in Imphal about a month ago.

Imphal East SP, on the other hand, said that Veewon was booked under sedition for his call for independence, not his criticism of the CM.

“It was based on his Facebook post, where he wrote, ‘Since the citizenship amendment bill was going to be passed by the Central government in the Rajya Sabha at any cost, people in Manipur have no option but the right to self determination i.e. independence’”. This has been the very demand of separatist organisations in Manipur, he added.

He said that Veewon’s Facebook post had prompted a suo moto inquiry by the criminal investigation department of the crime branch, who then submitted a report based on which the case was filed in Lamlai police station.

Despite several attempts, CM N Biren Singh and the BJP state spokesperson could not be reached for a comment.

Thokchom completed his Master’s Degree from Ambedkar University and was preparing for UGC NET and M Phil programme. Barely two weeks ago, he was in a panel discussion in New Delhi with Supreme Court lawyer Colin Gonsalves and Justice (Retd) Markandey Katju protesting the detention of Manipur journalist Kishorechandra Wangkhem under the National Security Act.

Lamenting the use of draconian laws against journalists and political and human rights activists, he had said, “This has become a norm to detain someone under NSA as far as Manipur is concerned. And this is disheartening to know that this is the kind of society we are living in. What freedom means for us is Lingthamba - the right to protest without violence.”

Rinku Khumukcham

Rinku Khumukcham, Editor of Imphal Times has more than 15+ years in the field of Journalism. A seasoned editor, was a former editor of ISTV News. He resides in Keishamthong Elangbam Leikai, with his wife and parents. Rinku can be contacted at [email protected] 

Leave a comment

Please do not post Hate Speech, derogatory, racist, obscene, spam comments.