The All Manipur Muslim Organisations' Coordinating Committee (AMMOCOC) has demanded unconditional release of Chingiz Khan, a pangal (manipuri Muslim) scholar who has been remanded in police custody for writing an article critical of the Government in a local daily called The Ichel Express.
The AMMOCOC has appealed to Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh for Chingiz Khan's immediate release, who is pursuing a PhD in History at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi.
"The apex body of the uslim Organisations in Manipur strongly condemns the publication of an article in a local nwspaper that gears up communal tensions after the Nizamuddin Markaz issues and appeals the Hon'ble Chief Minister, manipur for immediate release of Md. Chingiz Khan, a reasearch scholar at JNU, Delhi without any conditions on humanitarian grounds," read a release.
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The Muslim body clarified that the article written by Khan was originally published in the FORWARD Press on May 22, 2019 under the caption "The Identity Crisis Of Manipuri Muslims," however, the Manipuri version was carried by another local daily on April 7, 2020.
"The same article has been misinterpreted in terms of language, tone and sense so as to create intentionally a misconception among the various communities. It is maintained that the article was posted to the editor of the local newspaper long before the outbreak of nCovid19 in Manipur and the recent Nizamuddin Markaz issues," stated the release.
The AMMOCOC further said that the article was suddenly carried by the local daily in the local language without prior intimation to Chingiz Khan for any corrections or proofreads.
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"The local daily published the same article in a different angle leading to the misconceptions of the general public at this situation of the state under the serious nCovid19 issues," wrote AMMOCOC in its release, requesting the local dailies of Manipur to take precautions before publishing news articles to avoid communal tensions.
It may be mentioned here that Chingiz' article drew the notice of the local authorities who were prompt in arresting on April 8. After his arrest by the Mayang Imphal Police, he has been remanded in police custody for six days.
The arrest of the History scholar has been openly condemned by Manipur’s student bodies in Delhi. The Manipur Students’ Association Delhi (MSAD) has been quick to condemn the arrest of the scholar. Talking to Inside Northeast, Thokchom Singhajit, the General Secretary of the Manipuri students’ body said, “Such acts are suppressing the right to freedom of expression being a human-being. If the government continues to do such act of arresting and threatening students who speak for egalitarian and independent society, people will stand against them.”
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Singhajit also drew attention to other similar incidents which have occurred in the recent past during the lockdown. “Arrest of Victor Konsam for asking “How much money CM has personally donated to CM Relief Fund” on Facebook, arrest of General Secretary and President of Youth Forum for Protection of Human Rights for suggesting the government to shift the location of building quarantine hospital from Langthabal Paddy field to Changangei Airfield, and the The arrest of Dr. Laifungfam Debabrata (Boby) Roy, Convener of the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights in Manipur and the UN for his criticism to the way CM control Covid 19 are other such examples”, he said.
Meanwhile, the Delhi Association of Manipur Muslim Students has also decried the “arbitrary detention” of Khan. In a statement, it lashed out at the Government for the alleged stifling of dissent, which it claims has become a “norm” now in India.
The student body has made an appeal to the Government to stop “assaulting” dissenters. “Mere criticisms of government’s policies and program cannot be the ground for detaining someone”, the statement said.
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