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NIA cites Lenin reference in Assam protests

A view of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), in New Delhi. File

A view of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), in New Delhi. File   | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

Charge sheet against activists mentions use of former Soviet Union head’s name and words such as ‘comrade’

The National Investigation Agency (NIA), probing the link of some anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act activists in Assam with the banned CPI (Maoist), has in a charge sheet said one of them had used words such as ‘Lenin’, ‘comrade’ and ‘lal salam’ on social media.

Lenin refers to Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, the Bolshevik leader who became the head of the Soviet Union. Comrade, meaning colleague, has been associated with Communism since the Russian revolution while ‘lal salam’ translates into red salute.

“Bittu Sonowal had referred to some friends and they addressed him as ‘Comrade’ and used words ‘Lal Salam’. One of his Facebook post is of a picture of Lenin with words, ‘The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them’,” reads the NIA’s 40-page charge sheet filed on May 29.

Mr. Sonowal is the president of Chatra Mukti Sangram Samiti, the students’ wing of the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), an organisation avowedly for peasants. He was arrested earlier this year along with the wing’s general secretary Manas Konwar and KMSS general secretary Dhairjya Konwar under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Their arrest and that of KMSS advisor Akhil Gogoi in December 2019 were in connection with the anti-CAA protests that turned violent and claimed at least six lives.

“The NIA filed the charge sheet in 165 days instead of the stipulated 90 days. The agency wants to establish Gogoi and the rest of us as Maoists but they couldn’t give any concrete evidence in 19 pages of allegations. They also mentioned books on Maoism after seizing An Introduction to Socialism and Communist Manifesto that were bought from the open market,” KMSS leader Bhasco D. Saikia told The Hindu.

The charge sheet lists seizures such as a tab containing pictures and videos, including that of a speech, and a DVD containing “incriminating conversations”.

‘Police killing’ condemned

The Assam-based Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has slammed the Assam police for the “barbaric torture” that led to the death of 51-year-old Phanindra Bora, who was the Village Defence Party secretary of Jajari in central Assam’s Nagaon district.

Constables A. Rahaman and Paresh Sharma were arrested after Bora died on June 2. The government announced ₹1 lakh as immediate relief for his family.

“Even as the coronavirus is assuming frightening proportions all over Assam, four people were lynched within the space of a few weeks... The way in which the two constables attacked and killed Bora over a trivial issue has exposed the atrocities of the police and the home department,” said LDP general secretary Partha Pratim Bezbaruah.

Activists also drew a parallel between Bora’s death and that of George Floyd, whose asphyxiation by the police triggered protests and riots across the U.S.

The others lynched by mobs since May-end were a vegetable vendor in western Assam’s Hojai, a youth in eastern Assam’s Mariani and a Bangladeshi man who had allegedly crossed over to steal cattle in southern Assam’s Karimganj district.

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2020 5:07:22 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/nia-cites-lenin-reference-in-assam-protests/article31765734.ece

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