Veewon Thokchom, a former student of Ambedkar University and advisor to the Manipur Students’ Union of Delhi, has been arrested and charged with sedition for Facebook posts on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, reports said. While it is common practice to let family members of the person know where he is being held, Thokchom’s kin and lawyers are not aware of where he is at the moment.
Today, Delhi High Court rejected a petition to stop Thokchom’s transit to Manipur. His lawyers expect him to produced before a magistrate in Imphal on 19 Fenruary. On Saturday, a Saket court issued a remand for Thokchom’s transit to Manipur, directing the police to produce him in Manipur on or before February 19.
Thokchom was arrested on Friday by a joint team of the Delhi and Manipur Police and charged with sedition under 124A IPC for his Facebook posts on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill for ‘inciting violence’ and demanding ‘Manipur’s right to self-determination’, Manipur police said at a press conference on Saturday. He has also been charged with resisting arrest and promoting disharmony, they said.
Thokchom’s lawyer Ali Zia Kabir Choudhary has called the sedition charge “ridiculous”. “Veewon had helped organise a press conference in Delhi in January to condemn the arrest of Manipur scribe Kishorechandra Wangkhem,” Kabir told Times of India.
Wangkhem, a journalist, was sentenced to a year’s detention under the National Security Act in December for criticising CM Biren Singh and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a video posted on social media. According to The Wire, Veewon had led protests in Delhi against Wangkhem’s arrest and the Citizenship Bill.
Thokchom’s arrest on 15 February in Delhi from his rented house in Saket was based on an FIR filed in Imphal last week. Thokchom’s sister Venuka was present at the time of his arrest and told the Times of India they were not told why he was being detained. The police confiscated Thokchom’s laptop and phone, she said.
Thokchom’s brother told the daily the police had not produced a warrant.
“My sister was in the house when he was taken away. They had beaten him up, dragged him out of the house, didn’t give him even the chance to wear his slippers, didn’t inform her why they were taking him away,” Victor Thokchom told The Wire.
Choudhary said the police arrived in plain clothes and did not identify themselves. Fidel Sebastian, from the Human Rights Law Network, who is also representing Thokchom, told Huffpost India the police took him away in an unidentified Alto car.
Sebastian said of the 8 policemen, six were from the Delhi Police. Special cell DCP told Times of India that the Delhi Police had only proved logistical support to the Manipur Police.
Choudhary told the daily they were not informed which police station Thokchom had been detained in. They only found out after Venuka dialled a number she had been given, which turned out to be for the special branch office of the Delhi Police in Janakpuri, The Wire reported.
Days before his arrest, Thokchom had posted on Facebook,“Manipur Police Commando from both Imphal East and Imphal West just came to my house and threatened my parents to silence me. Searched my room and my house. They also took pictures of my parents and said “lairik fajana tammaga leiyu haiyu, makhut masa saangdana leiyu haiyu.” This is just wow. Let’s see how long you can keep on going with this.”