GUWAHATI: Manipur journalist Kishorechandra Wangkhem, who walked to freedom on Wednesday after spending 134 days in jail, said the best lesson that he learnt during incarceration was that one need not bow and say sorry for some truth that one has spoken out.
“I have learnt a lot of lessons in jail. The best lesson that I learnt is that you need not bow and say sorry for some truth that you have spoken out or something good that you have done,” he told this newspaper on the phone from his Imphal residence.
“If I had bowed down and given up, this kind of authoritarian nature will carry on. Now, I have got the encouragement and confidence to fight for justice and defend human rights,” the 39-year-old, who has two minor daughters, said.
He said he was not the first one to be arrested in a similar matter and manner nor was he going to be the last one.
“This is the beginning of my struggle. A lot of people met me when I was arrested. Some said they had been threatened for speaking against this government. Some others said they were threatened for comments on social media. I think I should, as a human rights defender and journalist, support them and share my experience with them. This is not the end, rather this is the beginning,” Wangkhem said.
He added: “A big, loud and clear message to the government is that we are living in a democracy and it is a democratic government. Criticism is a part and parcel of a democracy. Without it, no democracy can develop. Whatever the matter is and how bad the words are, the government should have the tolerance to listen to different voices. If not, democracy is going to be ruined”.
He thanked the Manipur High Court for delivering justice to him. He also expressed gratitude to various organisations and individuals who had extended their support to him in his fight for human rights.
A relieved and elated Ranjita Elangbam, the journalist’s wife, also lauded the judiciary.
“Justice was delayed but not denied. The freedom of expression must prevail. This is one’s right and there is no need to fear about it,” she said.
The Manipur HC had on Monday quashed the order of a lower court under which Wangkhem was detained under National Security Act and sent to one year’s “detention”.
He had uploaded a video on Facebook two days ahead of his arrest in last November wherein he used expletives several times to slam BJP-RSS and the state government. He had described the CM as a “puppet of Modi and Hindutva”. He was miffed with the state government for organizing a function to mark the birth anniversary of Rani Lakshmibai. He said she had nothing to do with Manipur’s freedom movement.