Targeted attacks on 3 renowned HRDs in the State of Manipur

akhu chingangbam
Akhu Chingangbam

Three Human Rights Defenders who are renowned in the state of Manipur and known for their activism have been targeted by the state, and this amounts to a violation of their life and liberty, freedom of speech and expression and freedom to carry on their respective profession. Human Rights Defenders Alert (HRDA) is concerned about the recent developments in the state of Manipur, it observed that the conditions are worsening day by day. HRDA condemns the attacks and appealed to NHRC to take suo moto cognizance.

On December 29, 2023, a renowned musical artist and Journalist, Akhu Chingangbam, and founder of the folk-rock band Imphal Talkies, band is known for singing protest songs about politics, insurgency, human rights issues and racial attacks across the north-eastern states. He is a social activist and a former physicist; he has collaborated with other artists and initiated various music projects for peace and harmony. The HRD’s house in Khurai was attacked at 10.30 am by unidentified persons who were armed, they entered the home and kidnapped the HRD at gunpoint. He was later released 20 Km away from his house in Imphal West District.[1]

On December 29, 2023, a Senior Journalist, Wangkhemcha Shayamjai, who is the editor-in-chief of Kangleipakki Meira, a local Manipuri vernacular paper, was arrested for publishing an article on December 2. An FIR was registered based on a complaint by the state vice president of the Bhartiya Janata Party, Mr Laishram Meenabanta Singh. The Complainant alleged that the HRD article led to tensions between communities in Manipur. The police registered the FIR under section provocation with Intent to cause riots, promoting enmity between different groups, criminal intimidation and statements conducing to public mischief. After the arrest, he was produced before the Imphal court and was remanded in police custody for three days till December 31, 2023.[2]

On January 5, 2024, a Senior Journalist, Hueiyen Lanpao, who is the editor of Dhanabir Maibam, a local Manipuri vernacular daily paper, was arrested for his report on “Deteriorating law and order in Moreh following attacks by armed groups on forces”. The HRD wrote an article against the backdrop of SDPO’s death and injuries to nine commandos in a spate of attacks in the town of Moreh since October 31. The HRD was charged with promoting enmity on the grounds of religion and race (505(1)(b)/505(2)), Criminal conspiracy (34) and violating various clauses of the Official Secrets Act, 1923. The HRD was remanded in police custody for three days and is presently in detention.[3]

Every person has a right to life and liberty enshrined under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution 1950, Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948, and Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966. The Right to life includes the right against harassment and threats. The targeted attack on the HRD by the police amounts to a violation of life and liberty.

The United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders 1999 states the following:

  • Article 12 (2) and (3) “The State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure, or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration. In this connection, everyone is entitled, individually and in association with others, to be protected effectively under national law in reacting against or opposing through peaceful means, activities, and acts, including those by omission, attributable to States that result in violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as acts of violence perpetrated by groups or individuals that affect the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
  • Article 9 (1): “In the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the promotion and protection of human rights as referred to in the present Declaration, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to benefit from an effective remedy and to be protected in the event of the violation of those rights”.

The Declaration on Human Rights Defenders 1999 also seeks to protect the monitoring and advocacy functions of defenders by recognizing their right to obtain and disseminate information relevant to the enjoyment of human rights. According to Article 11 of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders 1999, “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to the lawful exercise of his or her occupation or profession”.

The right to exercise freedom of speech and expression is enshrined under Article 19 (a) of the Indian Constitution. The right to freedom of opinion and expression encompasses three different aspects:

  1. The right to hold opinions without interference;
  2. 2)The right to access to information and
  3. The right to impart information and ideas of all kinds.

The artist’s rights are affected due to the omission of lawful duty by the police as they failed to protect the HRD from the attack and failed to provide protection to the HRD after the attack, and the senior journalist’s rights are affected due to registration of FIR on fabricated charges without giving reasonable opportunity to the journalists and arresting them without following due process of arrest raises serious concerns on the conditions prevailing in the state of Manipur.

Human Rights Defenders Alert (HRDA) condemned the targeted attack on the Human Rights Defenders, HRDA appealed to the National Human Rights Commission to exercise Section 12 (a) of the Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Act, 2019, and take suo moto cognizance of this incident and initiate an independent inquiry through NHRC’s investigation wing.

HRDA states that this is an opportunity for the NHRC to intervene and investigate Human Rights violations and condemn the same by issuing public statements in solidarity with the HRDs.  

Ashish Reddy is an Advocate and legal researcher who is currently serving as a Regional Coordinator of Human Rights Defenders Alert (HRDA)for southern India. He is also a member of the All India Network of Individuals and NGOs working with State and National Human Rights Institutions (AiNNI).

[1]Manipur Imphal Talkies Singer Akhu Chingangbam Kidnapped By Gunmen From Home, Released Later (

[2] Manipur: Journalist Wangkhemcha Shyamjai arrested for allegedly inflammatory article (

[3] 2nd Manipur editor held in a week after Moreh report | India News – Times of India (

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