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Assam government targeting Congress workers: Debabrata Saikia

Debabrata Saikia

Debabrata Saikia  


Opposition leader says sedition charge slapped on them.

Ten days after Assam erupted in protests over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), Leader of the Opposition in the Assam Assembly and Congress leader Debabrata Saikia on Wednesday accused the BJP-led government in the State of ‘deliberately targeting’ Congress workers by slapping serious charges like ‘sedition and waging war against the Indian state’.

“Students of Gauhati University, Dibrugarh University and Cotton University came out on the streets on their own because the CAA is unconstitutional and violates the Assam Accord,” Mr. Saikia said in an interview with The Hindu.

Assam Accord

The Assam Accord was a tripartite agreement — signed in 1985 between the All Assam Students Union (ASSU), the Rajiv Gandhi government and the Assam government, then headed by Mr. Saikia’s father, the late Hiteshwar Saikia — that made March 24, 1971 as the cut-off date for citizenship.

Anyone who came to Assam from neighbouring Bangladesh would be detected and deported, stated the Accord.

“The protests started as a spontaneous people’s movement and it must continue until the CAA is repealed. But the government is selectively targeting the protesters. Young boys of Youth Congress and NSUI [National Students Union of India] have been booked under Section 121 of the Indian Penal Code which means waging war against India. They are targeting’ some and leaving out others,” he said.

RTI activist booked

Apart from serious charges against Opposition party workers, the State government has booked Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) leader and RTI activist Akhil Gogoi under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and handed over to the National Investigation Agency to investigate charges of inciting violence.

Mr. Saikia also hinted that the State government was behind a few ‘safety valve protests to manage people’s anger’ but didn’t name any particular group.

“All I want to say is that they should realise that they cannot play with people’s emotions and self respect. They will soon get exposed,” said Mr. Saikia

Warning to staff

Asked about the latest Assam government order warning its employees against putting any political posts on social media, Mr. Saikia said Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal should remember his past as a student leader and not curb freedom of expression.

“Mr. Sonowal has forgotten that he was an AASU product and is now totally in the fold of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. He has abandoned the interest of the indigenous Assamese people,” he said.

Detention camps

Mr. Saikia took on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his statement that there were no detention camps in the country.

“Mr. Modi has taken falsehood to an entirely new level by claiming that there are no detention camps or centres in India. Himanta Biswa Sarma [Assam Minister] has tried to justify Mr. Modi’s statement with the help of more lies by claiming that the Central government has had nothing to do with the setting up of detention camps and that such camps have been set up in Assam only on the basis of a High Court directive,” Mr. Saikia said.

“As on July this year, there were 1,145 inmates in 6 detention camps. And as per data provided in the Assam Legislative Assembly, 28 inmates have died so far. Only three had cited that their permanent address was in Bangladesh, the remaining 25 were residents of various areas in Assam and they died in these camps after being labelled as Bangladeshis, mostly after the Sonowal government came to power in Assam,” he alleged.

On the Assam Cabinet passing resolutions to protect indigenous communities like Ahoms, Koch-Rajbongshi, Moran, Motok, Chutiyas and tea garden tribes and set up autonomous councils, Mr. Saikia said, “The government is trying to divide the people and rule.”

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 6:51:05 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/assam-government-targeting-congress-workers-debabrata-saikia/article30397696.ece

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