New Delhi: On June 26, 31-year-old Jnyanadeep Gogoi, a resident of Bauli Maidam in the Nazira sub-division of Sivasagar district in Assam, was picked up by the police. He has been accused of “making posts in social media expressing opinions and views in support of an outfit declared unlawful and a terrorist organization by the Govt. of India (sic)”. Gogoi works as an assistant rigman at the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC).
He was arrested for his Facebook posts supporting the Paresh Baruah-led United Liberation Front of Assam (Independent), which has been declared illegal under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 and listed as a terrorist organisation in the first schedule of the Act.
A case was registered at PS Sivasagar on June 26 under Indian Penal Code Section 121A (waging war against the Government of India) and UAPA Sections 13 (committing unlawful activities) and 18 (conspiracy to commit terrorist acts). He was produced before the chief judicial magistrate the next day and the police was granted seven days of remand.
“It’s an issue of national security. We are also investigating the recruitment process of the ULFA (I),’’ Balin Deouri, additional superintendent of Sivsagar district, told News18. He also said that “the police used to monitor social networking sites like Facebook to catch hold of users sharing aggressive posts supporting the outfit’s revolutionary ideas”.
According to his family, Gogoi was picked up from his home at around 3:30 pm. His house was searched without showing a warrant or informing his parents about the charges against him. They were also not told where he was being taken. His mobile phone, laptop and hard disk were also seized from the house.
“We didn’t have any idea about his sympathy towards ULFA (I),” Reboti Gogoi, Jnyanadeep’s mother, told The Wire. She says she doesn’t know exactly what her son had written about ULFA on Facebook, but asked, “Isn’t the freedom of expression guaranteed within our constitutional framework?” She is concerned about her son and wants him back as soon as possible. She is also very worried about his job at ONGC.
The Peoples Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR), in a press statement, has unequivocally condemned the arrest, calling the allegations of waging war and participating in unlawful and terrorist activities “false”. The statement says that UAPA allows for individuals like Gogoi to be targeted for their democratically expressed political beliefs.
“Gogoi’s arrest is the latest example of how the UAPA is a draconian law that allows the government to deny political freedoms and silence voices whose views are not in keeping with the state’s policies and ideology,” the statement reads.
The PUDR has asked for Gogoi’s immediate release, the FIR against him quashed and the UAPA sections repealed.