Skip to main content

Acquitted in 12 of 13 cases, why is Assam civil rights leader denied bail?, asks NAPM

Counterview Desk

Taking strong exception to the “continued incarceration” of Assam’s top civil rights leader Akhil Gogoi for more than 400 days and denial of bail by the Guwahati High Court, India’s civil society network National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) has said, it is “disquieting” that the National Investigation Agency (NIA), a Central agency which is supposed to investigate terror cases, is being used to “bulldoze” democratic and mass peaceful movements and their leadership.
An NAPM statement regrets, the High Court has refused to grant bail to Gogoi despite the fact that he has “already been acquitted in 12 of the 13 FIRs filed against him in an act of vengeance by the Government”, adding, though it clear the cases against Akhil Gogoi are “politically motivated”, the judiciary has “fallen short” of addressing “profound injustice” meted out to Gogoi.

Text:

National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) is deeply anguished at the continued incarceration of Akhil Gogoi, well-known peasant leader of Assam. The past two weeks have been particularly poignant, as one the one hand, it marked over 400 days of Akhil Gogoi in jail, while on the other, his bail application, which came up for hearing after protracted delay was declined by the Honb’le Guwahati High Court.
In its Order dated January 7, 2020, Justice Kalyan Rai Surana and Justice Ajit Borthakur, while rejecting the bail plea of Akhil Gogoi, founder of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), upheld the arbitrary verdict of a special NIA court dated July 13, 2020 and ruled that the anti-CAA protests in Assam held in December 2019 were 'not in line' with non-violent 'Satyagraha' but 'squarely falls within the definition of ‘terrorist act’ as defined in Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA)!
The Court also held that Akhil Gogoi ‘disrupted the noble meaning of Satyagraha’ by trying to paralyze the govt machinery, especially on the same day Japan’s Prime Minister was supposed to visit Assam, causing economic blockade, enmity between different groups, disruption of public peace and widespread disharmony and dissatisfaction towards the Government, all of which are acts prejudicial for national integration and such acts falls within the definition of ‘terrorist acts’ as defined in section 15 of UAPA. 
The only ‘saving grace’ seems to be where the Order states that “no prima facie view or opinion expressed in the course of this judgement shall have any bearing on the trial of the case”.
It is clear that the cases against Akhil Gogoi are politically motivated, therefore, highly unfortunate that the judiciary has fallen short of addressing this profound injustice. Akhil Gogoi has already been acquitted in 12 of the 13 FIRs filed against him in an act of vengeance by the Government.
And in the UAPA case, the Hon’ble High Court appears to have primarily taken on board the arguments of the prosecution (NIA) in its ‘reasoning’, while disregarding all facts on record which point otherwise. Instead of the selectively quoted speech parts of the appellant (Akhil Gogoi), his whole speeches and actions prove that he was arguing for expanding peaceful mass democratic protest.
Disproportionate powers vested in the NIA for supposedly investigating 'terror cases' is being deployed to quell democratic struggles
It is well known that all communities and organizations of Assam protested strongly and democratically against the communal and grossly unconstitutional Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019. This was a mass movement where Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) along with numerous groups, including All-Assam Students’ Union (AASU), North East Students' Union (NESO) and many others also participated in, which is within the inalienable rights of all citizens.
It is disquieting that the National Investigation Agency (NIA), a central security agency vested with sweeping powers, is being used by the current regime to bulldoze and actually ‘terrorize’ mass peaceful movements and their leadership. 
The disproportionate powers vested in the NIA for supposedly investigating 'terror cases' is being deployed to quell democratic struggles since last year continuing today with farmers protest, raising serious and fundamental questions of federalism, constitutional rights and people’s locus to be centre-stage in determining law and policy that has implications for millions.
NAPM is of the considered view that the inflated and misplaced allegations against Akhil Gogoi are clearly an attempt by the State to sabotage the genuine voices from the grassroots mass movements.
We are well aware of the ‘political threat’ Akhil Gogoi poses to the ruling establishment within Assam and at the Centre and that is precisely why the authorities are building up a ‘case’ against him to keep him incarcerated for a prolonged period. On the contrary, the consistent and ongoing mass solidarity and sentiment for the release of Akhil Gogoi across streets and farms and even within the jail by the inmates, demonstrates the real strength of the people.
NAPM unequivocally condemns the BJP Govt’s political move to keep Akhil Gogoi in incarceration over 400 + days and warn that mass movements can’t be muzzled by draconian laws and incarcerations based on fabricated cases.
  • We stand in solidarity with Akhil Gogoi as well as all political prisoners who have been incarcerated in the anti-CAA, NRC, NPR protests across the country.
  • We shall continue to raise voice, for the release of Akhil Gogoi and all other prisoners as well as for the repeal of the draconian UAPA law. 
  • We look forward to the Apex Court addressing the unfairness in the Order of the Guwahati High Court, while denying bail to Akhil Gogoi and a fair trial in the matter.
---
Click here for signatories

Comments

TRENDING

Bill Gates as funder, author, editor, adviser? Data imperialism: manipulating the metrics

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD*  When Mahatma Gandhi on invitation from Buckingham Palace was invited to have tea with King George V, he was asked, “Mr Gandhi, do you think you are properly dressed to meet the King?” Gandhi retorted, “Do not worry about my clothes. The King has enough clothes on for both of us.”

Displaced from Bangladesh, Buddhist, Hindu groups without citizenship in Arunachal

By Sharma Lohit  Buddhist Chakma and Hindu Hajongs were settled in the 1960s in parts of Changlang and Papum Pare district of Arunachal Pradesh after they had fled Chittagong Hill Tracts of present Bangladesh following an ethnic clash and a dam disaster. Their original population was around 5,000, but at present, it is said to be close to one lakh.

What's Bill Gates up to? Have 'irregularities' found in funding HPV vaccine trials faded?

By Colin Gonsalves*  After having read the 72nd report of the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on alleged irregularities in the conduct of studies using HPV vaccines by PATH in India, it was startling to see Bill Gates bobbing his head up and down and smiling ingratiatingly on prime time television while the Prime Minister lectured him in Hindi on his plans for the country. 

Anti-Rupala Rajputs 'have no support' of numerically strong Kshatriya communities

By Rajiv Shah  Personally, I have no love lost for Purshottam Rupala, though I have known him ever since I was posted as the Times of India representative in Gandhinagar in 1997, from where I was supposed to do political reporting. In news after he made the statement that 'maharajas' succumbed to foreign rulers, including the British, and even married off their daughters them, there have been large Rajput rallies against him for “insulting” the community.

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Youth as game changers in Lok Sabha polls? Young voter registration 'is so very low'

By Dr Mansee Bal Bhargava*  Young voters will be the game changers in 2024. Do they realise this? Does it matter to them? If it does, what they should/must vote for? India’s population of nearly 1.3 billion has about one-fifth 19.1% as youth. With 66% of its population (808 million) below the age of 35, India has the world's largest youth population. Among them, less than 40% of those who turned 18 or 19 have registered themselves for 2024 election. According to the Election Commission of India (ECI), just above 1.8 crore new voters (18-and 19-year-olds) are on the electoral rolls/registration out of the total projected 4.9 crore new voters in this age group.

Stagnating wages since 2014-15: Economists explain Modi legacy for informal workers

By Our Representative  Real wages have barely risen in India since 2014-15, despite rapid GDP growth. The country’s social security system has also stagnated in this period. The lives of informal workers remain extremely precarious, especially in states like Jharkhand where casual employment is the main source of livelihood for millions. These are some of the findings presented by economists Jean Drèze and Reetika Khera at a press conference convened by the Loktantra Bachao 2024 campaign. 

Mark Lee: A spiritual leader who thought conventional religions are barrier to liberation

  By Harsh Thakor*  The Krishnamurti Foundation of America (KFA) lost Roger Edwin Mark Lee, who was a devoted disciple of Jiddu Krishnamurti, one of the greatest and most self realised spiritual philosophers of our time. Mark passed away due to pneumonia complications on April 6, 2024, at he Ventura Community Memorial Hospital in California. His exit was an irreparable loss to the spiritual world.

Fossil fuel projects: NGOs ask investors to cut TotalEnergies’ main sources of finance

By Antoine Bouhey, Lara Cuvelier, Helen Burley*  Reclaim Finance has joined 58 NGOs from around the world, including Banktrack, in signing an open letter calling on banks and investors to stop participating in bonds (loans granted by investors and facilitated by banks) issued by TotalEnergies. The 58 NGO signatories include 350.org , Amazon Watch, BankTrack, Centre for Environmental Law and Community Rights (CELCOR, Papua New Guinea), Justiça Ambiental (Mozambique) and Friday for Future (Uganda), Oil Change International and Urgewald (Germany).