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AMWJU election mired in controversy


Presidential Candidate Bijoy Kakchingtabam claims no criminal record against him in his sworn affidavit. His rival Shamjai submits FIR copy of Bijoy’s arrest in 2022 and pending NIA case to the returning officer

TFM Report

The election for All Manipur Working Journalists Union for the term of 2023-2025 has got mired in controversy with candidates in the presidential race lodging complaints against each other.

Presidential candidate Bijoy Kakchingtabam, who had held numerous posts as AMWJU president in the past, is being accused of submitting false information about criminal cases in his sworn election affidavit. His sworn affidavit dated April 20 before the Oath commissioner claims no criminal record against him. “That, there is no criminal record against me, this is true to the best of my knowledge,” Bijoy Kakchingtabam states in point number 2 in his affidavit.

In this regard, Wangkhemcha Dhamen, a journalist and son of presidential candidate W Shamjai put up on his WhatsApp status that associate editor of Poknafam Bijoy Kakchingtabam has fooled the journalist fraternity of the State. He also put up a screenshot of The Frontier Manipur’s report of Bijoy Kakchingtabam and a standing committee member being arrested by the police in 2022 and shared the link of the TFM report.

Lawyer Rakesh Meihoubam, who was deputed as the returning officer of the Election Committee. sent a notice to W Shamjai on April 26. The notice said that a complaint was received from Bijoy Kakchingtabam that his affidavit was put up on public display in a bid to tarnish his image and to take appropriate measures in this regard.

Rakesh Meihoubam opined that the post on social media amounts to criticism of the private life of the rival candidate, i.e Bijoy Kakchingtabam. “Criticism of rival candidate as stated above would amount to causing interference to the conduct of the free and fair election,” said Rakesh Meihoubam. He directed Shamjai to refrain from indulging in such act of interfering with the free and fair conduct of the election.

Rakesh warned Shamjai “that in the event of your continuance of such acts in future, the Election Committee would take appropriate action against you without making any further reference to you.”

Shamjai filed his response to the notice on the same date stating that the complaint made by Bijoy Kakchingtabam is “ill-conceived and mala-fide”.

In his response, Shamjai states, “Assuming but not admitting that one Wangkhemcha Dhamen had uploaded the Election Affidavit of Mr Bijoy Kakchingtabam, it does not violate any rule(s), and any provision of law. Rather, it may facilitate proper awareness among the electors as it was the same affidavit filed by him and he did not fabricate the said election affidavit and uploading and keeping it in public domain shall enhance the spirit of democratic norms in ensuing AMWJU elections. Allegedly, the said affidavit was uploaded in his private WhatsApp status which may be treated as exercising his right to freedom of speech and expression.”

Shamjai states further, “It is unfortunate that this notice carries a warning and an opinion has already been formed without hearing me. Further, I humbly submit that Election Affidavit, which is one of the requirements of the nomination form, so filed by Mr. Bijoy Kakchingtabam contains wrong statement which amounts to perjury, a punishable offence as per relevant law. In his sworn statement in his affidavit, he states that there is no criminal record against him which is a blatant lie before your good office.”

To substantiate his claim, Shamjai also submitted FIR copies of Bijoy Kakchingtabam’s arrest to Rakesh Meihoubam.

He stated that in FIR No. 26(6)2022 BPR-PS u/s 20/18(b) UA (P) A. Act, Bijoy Kakchingtabam was a named accused. “In connection with the FIR, he was arrested and remanded to judicial custody. Later on, considering the gravity and nature of the case it was handed over to National Investigating Agency which re-registered as FIR No. RC-01/2022/NIA/IMP dated 13/07/2022 u/s 18(b) & 20 UA(P) Act, 1967. In the circumstances, accepting his nomination without affording me an opportunity to object to his nomination amounts to regularising and legalizing an illegal act,” Shamjai states.

Shamjai requested the returning officer self to revoke the order dated 23/04/2023, “thereby the nomination paper of Bijoy Kakchingtabam was accepted illegally”. “Now, it is imperative upon your good office to cause a criminal prosecution against Mr. Bijoy Kakchingtabam for his intentional and deliberate act of filing a false affidavit for the ends of justice,” he said.

Now, the ball is in the court of the returning officer. It remains to be seen what action will be taken against any presidential candidates and whether the elections will indeed be free and fair.

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