Guwahati: A special NIA court on Tuesday, June 22, acquitted Assam MLA and farmers’ leader Akhil Gogoi in one of the two cases in which he was charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
The Sivasagar legislator, who was elected to assembly while he was in jail, was slapped with a total of 12 cases filed by multiple police stations in Upper Assam during in the wake of anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests that led to violence in some places of Assam.
One of these (FIR 289/19) was filed by Chabua Police station in Upper Assam’s Dibrugarh district and the other (FIR 13/19) was filed by Chandmari police station in Guwahati.
These two were taken over by the NIA in early 2020, which added multiple charges under the UAPA and Indian Penal Code to them.
On Tuesday, the NIA court acquitted Gogoi in case number 3/2020, related to the Chabua police station. Two others, Jagajit Gohain and Bhupen Gogoi, were also acquitted.
The Chandmari case is ongoing and it was during a hearing pertaining to this case on Tuesday that Gogoi was acquitted.
Akhil Gogoi, Jagajit Gohain and Bhupen Gogoi were charged by Chabua police under section 16 of the UAPA, along with 12 sections of the IPC which include sedition, promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, waging war against the nation, criminal conspiracy, and others.
Bhasco de Saikia of Raijor Dal, the political wing of the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) which Akhil Gogoi heads, told the media on Tuesday, “Today the NIA court stated that in no way can UAPA charges be brought under the Chabua police station case. It has been proved that to stop the anti-CAA movement all these charges were framed to book Gogoi and others. This is the fascist tendency of the present regime. The people of Assam should wake up against this in Assam.”
Gogoi was arrested on December 12 from Jorhat when the anti-CAA protests were snowballing into a major agitation against the Bhartiya Janata Party-led state government.
In the days following Gogoi’s arrest, several KMSS and Sattra Mukti Sangram Samiti (SMSS) leaders including Dharjya Konwar, Bitu Sonowal and Manas Konwar were all arrested by NIA under the UAPA.
As Dharjya, Bitu and Manas were all let out on bail last year, Gogoi has remained in jail.
The charges against Gogoi include unlawful assembly which can be booked for engaging in rioting, member of an unlawful assembly, rioting and armed with a deadly weapon, wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause a riot, promoting the enmity between different groups on the basis of religion, race, religion, and language; imputations and assertions which are an impediment to national integration, assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharging his/her duty, mischief of causing damage to public property, and causing damage to public property by fire or explosive substance.
The UAPA charges brought by the NIA accuse him of terrorist acts with the intent to threaten the unity, security, and sovereignty of India.