CM moots law to silence social media rants, rein in ‘heroes’

IMPHAL, 10th Dec: Like in different parts of the world, Manipur Human Rights Commission (MHRC) in collaboration with United NGOs Mission, Manipur; Human Rights Alert; Human Rights Law Network and United Voluntary Youth Council observed International Human Rights Day at the Banquet Hall of 1st Manipur Rifles here Monday.
Speaking on the occasion as chief guest, Chief Minister N Biren Singh regretted that unlike the past when there was a cultured society and the younger ones respected the elders, such decency has been vanishing gradually.
If Article 19 (1) guarantees freedom of press under freedom of expression, then one must also adhere to the provisions of Article 19 (2) with decency. Thus, to prevent recurrence of unwanted incidents in future, particularly uploading of fake news on social media and to restore the cultured society, Manipur needs to make a suitable law or an Act that is not only compatible for the state, but also evokes a sense of morality, he contended.
At another event, the CM declared that the government will institute a new law to deal with ‘social media heroes’.
Interacting with media persons during a Rabi crop campaign programme in Imphal East, Biren said that Manipur had remained as a society with good moral and conduct. Addressing someone with ‘Nang’ (you) was considered to be rude in the society.
However, those moral and good behaviours are losing their sheen among the younger generation today and words they used in social media are disheartening to see. As such, the government will frame a new law in the context of Manipuri society and its morale, which could deal with these ‘heroes’ of social media, he said.
Pointing out that the people are against unnecessary bandhs and general strike that affect their daily lives, the CM disclosed that he personally conducted a brief survey to assess the overall situation related to the bandh called by the 2013 batch police constable candidates against delay in declaration of the result. He observed that the people went about their daily routines in market and work places, as if there is no bandh. Biren said human rights violation by anyone, including elected representatives and law enforcers, will not be tolerated and proper action will be taken against such people.
He also said the current government is against any kind of rights violation. “Just because we are government, we cannot resort to anything we want,” Biren said, adding, the Human Rights Commission and the judiciary are there to check the excesses. The elected representatives and police officers are also human too, the chief minister said.
On the other hand, the public too need to exercise responsibility as well, he said.
During bandhs and blockades, police officials are maltreated since many of them get injured due to stone pelting, the chief minister said. They get demoralised since people use abusive languages, he said and stressed that such hardship faced by police needs to be understood as well. The chief minister also said though freedom of expression is guaranteed by the Constitution, the matter of “decency and morality” needs to be considered.
Speaking on the rising number of derogatory comments on social media, he said it is essential to formulate a law that will deal with usage of derogatory and defamatory statements.
“I am worried about our future as decency seems to have fallen to much extent,” Singh said. He also called for better cordial relationship between the public and police and appealed that police are also human as well.
Stating that it is wrong to inconvenience 28 lakh citizens for non-declaration of results of around 2000 people, Biren remarked that the people’s negative response against bandh and general strike shows their maturity. He said that it one of the biggest achievements of the present government.
Regarding the declaration of result, the CM said that it would be declared only after the Court gives an order for the same. He then wondered about the state’s future if the candidates who could not wait for Court’s order were to become a part of the force later on and lamented that the society seems to have lost its moral responsibility.
After lying dormant for 10 years, MHRC was revived recently. If the government was oppressive, it would not have revived the commission, let alone appointing a new chairperson for it, Biren remarked and assured to look into the staff and infrastructure shortages of the Commission. He also observed that the relationship between the police and the people has improved for the better.
On the ongoing construction work at Kangla, the CM remarked that critics need to be better inform themselves before commenting on the issue and stated that restoration works are being taken up at Kangla Fort to preserve the rich history of the state.
Maintaining that the relationship between the hill and valley has improved considerably, Biren contended that it is the optimal time for all to move forward as a united state. It is unnecessary to dabble in communal politics, a tactic that many have employed over the years to sway voters during election.
The CM also informed that government is mulling on ways to provide support to the surviving families of fake encounter cases, currently being heard at Supreme Court. Furthermore, since the expansion of Moreh route, there have been instances of certain people constructing houses near the route so as to claim compensation, despite the presence of photographic evidences. When eviction notices were sent to them, the individuals filed a plea at High Court, following which the eviction was stayed. In such situations, a forum for coordination among legislature, judiciary and executive is need of the hour, he asserted. The observance was held with MHRC acting chairperson Khaidem Mani as president and Law and Legislative Affairs minister L Jayantakumar Singh as guest of honour.
During the technical session, Khaidem Mani took the chair as Human Rights Alert executive director Babloo Loitongbam, LMS Law College Professor N Pramod and IGP Bandana Karki spoke on the topics, “Maintaining Law and Order is to uphold rule of law and human rights”, “Protection of Human Rights Act and Role of MHRC” and “Fostering Civil and police relationship” respectively as resource persons.

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