Guwahati: A National Investigation Agency special court rejected incarcerated peasant leader Akhil Gogoi’s bail plea on Friday (August 7). In the eight-month-old case, Gogoi has been accused sedition while ‘spearheading’ the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests in Assam.
Gogoi’s counsel will be appealing the decision in the Gauhati high court.
Two cases were filed against Gogoi by the Chandmari and Chabua police stations in December. To these, the NIA added charges under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act after it took over the cases.
Gogoi’s bail plea was rejected for the case filed in Chabua. A criminal petition was also filed by Gogoi on Friday at the NIA special court to quash the case filed in Chandmari.
Interestingly, Gogoi was granted bail on July 16 by the Gauhati high court in three cases filed by the Chabua police station in upper Assam’s Dibrugarh district for his involvement in the anti-CAA protests. There were a total of 12 cases which were filed by the Assam Police against Gogoi.
There were hopes that Gogoi would walk free on Friday, especially since scores of his supporters have been protesting for his immediate release over the past fortnight across different parts of the state.
Expectations about his release were also raised when last month, three leaders of the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) and its students’ offshoot Satra Mukti Sangram Samiti (SMSS) were released on bail by the NIA special court. Bitu Sonowal, Dharjya Konwar and Manas Konwar were all released on bail last month.
Speaking to The Wire, a member of Gogoi’s legal team said the NIA special court may have found the ‘incriminating materials’ against Gogoi as the basis for his bail rejection. “There were points which were made against Gogoi that he wanted to create chaos using the anti-CAA protests. There were aspects which mentioned that he had telephonic conservations with protesters and that way back in 2008 he had met with some Maoists people. But in 2008, the Maoists were not a banned organisation. He was also blamed for trying to do an economic blockade with some of his colleagues. We will make an appeal at the Gauhati high court, probably in the next week or so,” said the lawyer.
A portion of a statement put out by the state against Gogoi reads, “It is revealed from the statement of protected witness A that the behest of A-1 Akhil Gogoi he along with four others were sent to Maoist training camp in Orissa through a person, who is stated to be a linkman between A-1 and the Maoists, that during the training they were also trained in the use of arms, including AK-47; that after coming back, upon the witness and other participants briefing A-1 regarding the training, A-1 told them that time has not come though work like Maoists in Assam but that they should go to Upper Assam and keep preparing the people that, accordingly they were doing so, when PW-A got arrested….”
Back in March, Gogoi was granted default bail by an NIA special court as the NIA was not able to file a chargesheet within the stipulated period of the 90 days since Gogoi was arrested.