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Akhil Gogoi set free, slams govt for ‘misusing’ NIA, UAPA

Assam activist and Sibsagar MLA Akhil Gogoi after he was released by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) court in Guwahati on July 1, 2021. | Photo Credit: RITU RAJ KONWAR
Special Correspondent GUWAHATI: 01 July 2021 13:01 IST
Updated: 01 July 2021 18:39 IST

He was in jail since Dec. 2019 for allegedly fomenting violence during anti-CAA protests and maintaining links with Maoists.

Assam MLA and Raijor Dal president Akhil Gogoi walked out of jail on Thursday after a special court of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) acquitted him of all charges in the second of the two cases related to the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act violence in the State in December 2019.

The activist-turned-politician, who represents the Sibsagar Assembly constituency in eastern Assam, was discharged in the first case on June 25. He was in jail since December 2019 and had spent the last few months in the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital due to ailments.

The NIA had pursued the cases filed under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act (UAPA) for alleged criminal conspiracy, sedition, promoting enmity between groups on grounds such as religion, race and language, assertions against national integrity, and support to a “terrorist organisation”.

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The cases were registered on the basis of two FIRs lodged with the Chabua police station in Dibrugarh district and the Chandmari police station in Guwahati. The Chandmari case had the additional charge that he had links with a Maoist organisation.

“The court has proven that the government’s charges against me were bogus. This is a historic day for the Indian judiciary,” Mr. Gogoi told journalists after his release.

“A case was filed against me for my links with CPI [Maoist]. In another case, I was charged with inciting violence during the anti-CAA agitation. The court proved these were fake charges that kept me in jail for more than a year and a half,” he said.

He slammed the BJP-led State government for “misusing” the UAPA and NIA. The court’s judgement would influence future cases, he stated.

Visits anti-CAA firing victim’s house

Soon after his release, Mr. Gogoi visited the house of Sam Stafford, a schoolstudent who was among the five persons killed in the anti-CAA violence in Guwahati. He expressed solidarity with the parents of the boy who died in police firing.

Mr. Gogoi’s advocate Shantanu Borthakur said three others – Dharjya Konwar, Manas Konwar and Bittu Sonowal – who were arrested with him were also discharged on Thursday. The three, members of various wings of the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti that Mr. Gogoi had founded, had been out on bail.

“The court’s ruling has exposed the State government’s attempts to target our party president,” Bhasco de Saikia, Raijor Dal working president, said.

The NIA court last week granted two days’ parole to Mr. Gogoi to meet members of his family in Guwahati and eastern Assam’s Jorhat. His 84-year-old mother Priyada Gogoi is ailing. She had campaigned for her son in the May 27 Assembly elections.

“My focus will be on working for the development of my constituency besides opposing any anti-people policy the government tries to impose,” Mr. Gogoi said.

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