Imphal, Dec 31:
Wangkhemcha Shyamjai has been granted bail by the Duty Magistrate of Imphal West today. While condemning his arrest, Paomee Welfare Foundation (PWF), a welfare trust for members of the All Manipur Working Journalists Union (AMWJU), is dismayed by the arrest of Wangkhemcha Shamjai, who is the current chairperson of PWF. Shamjai was picked up by the police on Friday morning (Dec 29) from his residence on the strength of FIR no. 903(12)2023 IPS U/S-153/153-A/505(1)(b)/505(2) IPC, for an article published in Kangleipakki Meira, a vernacular evening daily, of which Shamjai is the Chief Editor.
The PWF thinks that if the said article questions the government’s role in the current ethnic crisis and has reported an incident that had not taken place, a defamatory lawsuit and not an arrest without trial should have been the resort so that due process of law is allowed to weigh his guilt or innocence before a penalty is awarded. PWF hence demands the immediate and unconditional release of Wangkhemcha Shamjai from police custody and due process of law is allowed to decide the case.
Rakesh Naorem, the Publicity Secretary of the Like Minded Group (LMG), has issued a statement condemning the imprisonment of Wangkhemcha Shyamjai. While urging the government to release Shyamjai unconditionally, LMG emphasise that he has tirelessly served the downtrodden and underprivileged of the state as the Chief Advisor of the organization. Shyamjai, known for his humanitarian efforts, has assisted people during the COVID-19 pandemic, and aided victims of accidents, and illness.
According to the statement, in his role as the Chief Editor of Kangleipakki Meira, Shyamjai has dedicated many years to journalism, defending the freedom of the press. LMG appeals that if the senior journalist Wangkemcha Shyamjai has erred, the government should show compassion by understanding that to make mistakes is humane. LMG also appeals to the government to reinstate the freedom of the press, allowing news organizations to publish news without hindrance.
Earlier, All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union and Editors Guild Manipur have also condemned his arrest.