Court rejects Mark Haokip’s bail plea Case dossier alleges sordid details
By Our Staff Reporter
IMPHAL, Jun 21: The Court of Session Judge, Imphal West today rejected an application filed by Mark Thangmang Haokip for releasing him on bail.
The order was kept reserved after hearing submissions of Mark Thangmang Haokip’s counsel and APP of the State in connection with a bail application filed by Mark Thangmang Haokip on June 15.
The present FIR case was registered against Mark Thangmang Haokip for allegedly being the president of an outfit called ‘Government of the People’s Democratic Republic of Kukiland’ (GPDRK) and conspiring for secession from India, wage or attempting to wage war or abetting waging of war against the Government of India along with three other office bearers namely; KS Kipgen-secretary (Administration), Lunkhohao Haokip-secretary (Political Affairs) and CSK Mate, press secretary.
It was also alleged that Mark Thangmang Haokip is also involved in spreading propaganda on social media platforms so as to create instability, communal hatred, animosity, violence etc so as to achieve the organizational goal of Govt. of Kukiland.
The case dossier also mentioned many instances such as obstruction to mass tree plantation in Thangjing Hills to incite hatred/tension between different communities; the Koubru incident of April 2021 where obstruction was given to Governments officials in surveying of site of Lord Koubru; Churachandpur incident of 21st May 2022 where a violent mass protest erupted in protest against the summon issued to him for appearance; and the violent protest launched by a mob belonging to his organisation on 25th May, 2022 in protest against his arrest from Delhi.
It was also alleged that Mark Thangmang Haokip owns a website/domain by the name ‘www.kukigovt.com’ to propagate their ideas and hatch conspiracy against the Government. Incriminating materials in Kuki dialect are found in the website.
Mark Thangmang Haokip was arrested from Delhi on May 24 by personnel of Imphal police station in connection with three FIRs registered against him and he was later brought to Imphal after obtaining a transit remand.
On May 27, a Duty Magistrate released him on bail but he was sent to judicial custody as he failed to furnish requisite bonds. However, on May 30, Mark Thangmang Haokip was released from jail on furnishing necessary bonds.
Mark Thangmang Haokip’s counsel said that the accused was re-arrested on May 30 itself in connection with the present FIR case with mala fide intention and to harass him.
The accused was arrested on the basis of certain Facebook posts he uploaded and the present FIR was registered with the sole motive to confine him in custody anyhow, even after his release by the Court, the counsel continued.
Multiple FIRs were lodged against him for the same posts.
During the course of hearing, the defence counsel also submitted print-outs of six Facebook posts made by the accused in his dialect along with their translated copies.
In his social media post dated August 21, 2020, the accused clarified that ‘PDRK’ was created to spread the Kuki community’s ideology and in his another post dated February 14, 2018 the accused made it clear that he was against idea of creating new militant group but suggested political and non-violent means to realize their hopes.
The defence counsel contended that these innocuous Facebook posts do not fall within the meaning of any of the offences charged against Mark Thangmang Haokip. Rather, it is protected by the fundamental right of free speech as enshrined under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India.
It was further pointed out that the investigation does not take into consideration the clarifications made by the accused in his six Facebook posts and prayed for releasing Mark Thangmang Haokip on bail.
The APP clarified that the present FIR is not related to the accused’s Facebook posts. The accused was arrested on the serious allegations of waging war against India, the APP said.
This aspect was discovered recently during the course of extensive investigation. Although it has been established that he formed the ‘People’s Democratic Republic of Kukiland’ along with three other persons, he refused to identify the other members of his group.
There are a lot of contributions to the account operated by the accused and the transaction records run to 276 pages/printouts. The investigation is still going on to track the sources of funding and expenditures, the APP said.
Conspiracy of waging war against the Nation is clearly reflected in the website materials of www.kukigovt.com and the entries of the diary seized from the possession of the accused, he continued.
The APP further submitted that the accused is a famous social media influencer with a huge fan of followers and he used to upload offensive posts which may cause hatred and dissatisfaction between various groups.
His arrest evoked mass scale violent protests from his followers and sympathizers. As such, he is very much likely to continue to upload offensive posts in social media, if released on bail, and thus will create a hostile atmosphere amongst various communities on ethnic lines, the APP continued.
Since the investigation is at an early stage and identities of other conspirators are to be established, his release may hamper the progress of investigation, the APP asserted and prayed for rejection of Mark Thangmag Haokip’s bail application.
The Court, after hearing both the parties and on perusal of materials on record, observed that the accused has been charged with serious offence of waging war against the Nation.
It is an admitted fact that he was released on bail in connection with FIRs related to his Facebook posts but it would be wrong to presume that the present FIR has arisen out of Facebook posts, the Court pointed out.
On perusal of the case diary, the Court found prima facie materials for conspiracy to wage war against the Nation, even though full-scale activities of recruiting volunteers, procuring arms and ammunition etc have not been reached. Nevertheless, there are instances of setting out ideologies, identifying enemies, identifying areas to be covered under the new republic across neighbouring countries, etc, remarked Session Judge A Guneshwar Sharma.
The investigation is at an early stage and many loose ends are to be tightened and accordingly, the bail application of Mark Thangmang Haokip is rejected, asserted the Court.