Two men are arrested in India for saying cow urine and dung do NOT cure Covid-19: Pair have been held 45 days so far for dispelling politician’s claim
- Activist Erendo Leichombam and journalist Kishorechandra Wangkhem said cow excrement was not a cure for COVID on social media
- They have been imprisoned indefinitely after members of the political party supporting the treatment complained to police
- India’s laws allow the state to imprison people for up to 12 months without trial or formal charge
- Their lawyer is challenging the detention, saying the men have a right to free speech
Two men have spent 45 days in prison in India with no word of their release after saying cow urine and dung is not a cure for Covid-19 on social media.
Erendro Leichombam, an activist, and Kishorechandra Wangkhem, a journalist, refuted claims made by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party that cow excrement can protect against coronavirus.
The men were swiftly dragged from their houses in the state of Manipur and arrested after local BJP party members reported their posts to the police.
Both Leichombam and Wangkhem have a history of holding India’s political leaders to account on their social media and have spoken out previously against members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Erendro Leichombam, an activist (left) and Kishorechandra Wangkhem, a journalist, were arrested by state police after refuting politician’s claims that cow excrement can protect against Covid-19
India’s BJP party has authorised the use of cow dung and urine as a method to protect against coronavirus
Although the pair have been jailed already for 45 days without word of release, India’s National Security Act (NSA) gives the Indian state powers to arrest and detain suspects for up to 12 months without any formal charge or trial.
The men’s Facebook posts criticising the health advice from the BJP party were reportedly sent to the police by BJP members who complained that they ‘deliberately and wilfully insulted and outraged religious feelings and sentiments’ of BJP workers and family members of the deceased.
The questionable health advice was given by Pragya Thakur, a controversial MP from BJP who also claimed that the urine can cure lung infections caused by the virus and stated she drinks the urine daily.
Her comments in May amid the peak of India’s second wave contradicted the advice of doctors who implored citizens not to cover themselves in dung as they said it could aid transmission of the virus.
The coronavirus crisis in India has been devastating with the country reaching the grim milestone of over 400,000 deaths last week, but some experts believe the actual case and fatality numbers to be far higher and are putting pressure on the authorities to report the numbers accurately.
Over 30 million people in India have been infected by Coronavirus, with statistics from John Hopkins university stating that less than 5% of the country’s population has been fully vaccinated.
The coronavirus crisis in India has been devastating with the country reaching the grim milestone of over 400,000 deaths last week, but some experts believe the actual case and fatality numbers to be far higher
Over 30 million people in India have been infected by Coronavirus, with statistics from John Hopkins university stating that less than 5% of the country’s population has been fully vaccinated
Chongtham Victor, the lawyer representing both detainees, said he is challenging the arrests on grounds of the right to free speech.
‘The allegations are completely illogical and totally false,’ Victor told VICE World News.
‘I can’t say how long [Leichombam and Wanghkem] will be in jail.
We’re approaching this case carefully. It’s a very tricky circumstance.’
Many people are undergoing ‘cow dung therapy’, believing it will boost their immunity to defend against Covid-19, despite the advice of Indian doctors who have implored citizens not to use the treatment as it could spread the virus faster
Leichombam’s Facebook post read: ‘The cure for Corona is not cow dung & cow urine. The cure is science & common sense,’ while Wanghem’s post simply stated that cow dung and urine are not effective cures for COVID-19.
The men made their comments after a local BJP leader died from COVID-19 complications.
Wanghem, who has been arrested three times previously for criticising politicians on social media, was arrested within half an hour of the post going live according to his wife Elangbam.
Mumbai Press Club condemned the journalist’s imprisonment and demanded his release.
Both men have been imprisoned for 45 days so far without any word of a trial or release date, as India’s laws permit state authorities to arrest and jail someone for up to 12 months without a formal trial or charge
Biswajit Singh, Manipur’s Minister of Information and Public Relations, said the district authority took action against the two men after ‘finding merit’ in the cases against them.
‘The government has taken note of the entire issue; the file is pending with the chief minister,’ he told The Print.
Earlier this year, Manipur state’s Chief Minister Biren Singh told reporters that freedom of speech and expression, although protected under the Indian Constitution, cannot be misused.
‘In cases where security and public order is violated, the law will automatically take its course,’ he said.
Leichombam’s family has filed a plea at the Supreme Court to challenge the order for his indefinite detention.
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