Imphal Court Summons Kuki Leaders Over Alleged Hate Speech In An Interview With Karan Thapar On The Wire
The Chief Judicial Magistrate of Imphal East, Manipur has summoned two Kuki leaders over certain statements made during an interview published on the YouTube Channel of The Wire with Karan Thapar. The Court was of the opinion that prima facie materials exist against them to show that the alleged statements had the potential to promote enmity between different groups in the State.
It is pertinent to note that the two interviews came during an ongoing conflict between the communities of Meitei and Kuki in Manipur.
“After perusal of the petition and statement of the Complainant and witnesses recorder under Section 200 CrPC and upon hearing the Ld. Counsel or the Complainant, this Court dins that prima facies materials exist for the commission of the offence under section 153-A, 200, 505(1) and Section 120-B IPC. As the allegation against the accused persons are mainly related to the statements/answer they have replied in the interview at ‘Wire’, there is no material for offence under IT Act”, CJM Ashem Tarunakumari Devi observed in the order.
However, the Court did not pass any directions to seize the phones of the accused, as prayed in the complaint.
The complainant-Lourenbam Cha Somerendro complained about two separate interviews of the Wire with Mary Grace Zou and Wilson L. Hangshing, General Secretary of Kuki People's Alliance (KPA) for making certain statements in an interview, which could promote violence in the State.
As per the statement of a witness, Longjam Munindro Singh, the accused No 1, Mary Grace Zou, had allegedly falsely stated that the Meitei had pre-planned to kill Kukis in the valley area of Manipur and the ethnic violence in the valley started on May 3, 2023. While in fact, the violence started in Ccpur District when the Forest Beat Office was set ablaze. Pursuant to which, Kuki Armed Militants and Paite villagers started burning down the houses and shops and further looted the gun shop.
It was contended that the statements were fabricated with deliberate and malicious intent to promote communal enmity and hatred between the Meitei and Kuki.
It was also alleged that in the interview, Zou had blamed the Chief Minister for causing genocide of the Kukis.
"One of the reasons assigned by the accused no. 1 that the present situation is only for demanding Schedule Tribe status by the Meitei community is completely false and irrelevant. Such being the reason the very statement of accused no.1 is destined to encourage the communal tension and disharmony between the Meiteis and Kuki. The very violence in the State of Manipur which started on May 3, 2023 has been particularly done by the Kuki militant by using heavy and sophisticated weapons in their hand”, the witness said on oath.
The accused no. 2, as per the witness, had stated that the Government of Manipur used the Reserved Forest and Protected Forest to prosecute the Kuki community.
Further contended that he had said that the government lead by N Biren Singh being a Meitei wants to prosecute and forcibly evict Kuki community from the Reserved and Protected Forest.
The Indian Army and the Officers were also doubted in the interview saying that they belonged to the Meitei community and therefore cannot be trusted.
Consequentially, the Court directed the two accused to appear before the Court on July 24, 2023.
Cause Title: Lourenbam Cha Somerendro v. Mary Grace Zou and Wilson L. Hangshing