By T.J.S. George
Small men in big chairs are usually dangerous. It isn’t just the Napoleon Complex: the tendency among short men to be overly assertive to make up for their lack of height. A politician who occupies a chair too big for him gets not only overly assertive but also contemptuous of others and their rights. The result is a dictator complex, the feeling that whatever they do is right.
Consider the case of Kishorechandra Wangkhem, a television journalist in Manipur. One fine night in November he was arrested for criticising Chief Minister N. Biren Singh and Prime Minister Modi. The charge was sedition. A Magistrate found no sedition in the remarks the journalist made and released him on bail. Within two days he was jailed under NSA which is beyond judicial review.
What exactly was the sedition Wangkhem committed? His style was typical Manipuri TV style, strong words strongly used, — “street language,” as the Chief Judicial Magistrate put it while allowing bail. The substance was something else. He objected to the CM weaving the Rani of Jhansi’s struggle against the British into Manipur’s freedom struggle. “When you praise the Rani of Jhansi as a freedom fighter covering Manipur your knowledge is nill and an insult to the freedom fighters of Manipur”, he said.
A historically accurate stance. But CM Biren Singh condemned it as “prejudicial to the security of the State”. At worst it was prejudicial to the security of the Chief Minister. Which makes this
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Is this a pattern among BJP leaders? At a meeting addressed by Maharashtra Minister Vinod Tawde recently, a student asked a question with his tape recorder on. The Minister asked him to turn off the recorder and the student wanted to know why. The Minister’s response was to ask his security men to arrest the student and confiscate his recorder. The same arrogance of power made V.K. Singh, known variously as the Sanghi General and the foot-in-mouth
Perhaps small men imagine that they can frighten critics away. The media watchdog, Reporters Without Borders, found India was the fifth deadliest place for a journalist. The All Manipur Working Journalists Union disowned journalist Wangkhem. For