Protests across Assam demanding release of peasant leader

Akhil Gogoi, repeal of CAA
    Guwahati, Jul 28 (PTI) Peasant body Krishak Mukti
Sangram Samiti (KMSS) on Tuesday staged protests across Assam,
demanding the release of its leader Akhil Gogoi as well as the
repeal of the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
    The members of the organisation defied prohibitory
orders in Guwahati and were arrested, while at other places it
formed human chains, performed songs and created artworks in
support of their demand.
    In the state capital, the KMSS supporters defied
Section 144 and formed a human chain and shouted slogans,
demanding Gogoi's release and repeal of the Act.
    "They did not have any permission to stage the
protest. So, we arrested them for violating the prohibitory
orders," a senior police official said.
    Gogoi is being treated at Gauhati Medical College and
Hospital after testing positive for COVID-19. He contracted
the virus in Guwahati Central Jail, where he was lodged for
his alleged role in violent anti-CAA protests last year.
    KMSS president Raju Bora said the group has restarted
the anti-CAA movement from Tuesday and it will continue till
the controversial law is repealed.
    "This time, the agitation will be more united and
powerful. The BJP government is scared of Akhil Gogoi and that
is why they have put him in jail. They want to stop the
peoples' voice by imprisoning Gogoi," he added.
    In Jorhat city, artistes, students, educationists,
advocates, journalists and common people joined the agitation
and performed songs and recited poems, while painters created
sketches to press for their demands.
    Dergaon, Merapani, Bokakhat and many other places in
Golaghat district too witnessed cultural protests.
    In Dibrugarh, farmers staged a unique protest by
planting rice seedlings on their paddy fields. People also
formed human chains at several other places in the district.
    In the Chenimari area of Barpeta, which is ravaged by
the devastating flood, people protested standing and forming
human chains on their country-made boats.
    Similar artistic and variety of protest expressions
were witnessed in other districts, including Tinsukia,
Sivasagar, Charaideo, Nagaon, Morigaon, Dhemaji, Darrang,
Kamrup, Bongaigaon, Sonitpur, Goalpara, Dhubri and Baksa.
    The Hailakandi and Cachar districts of the Barak
valley also saw some demonstrations, demanding the release of
the RTI activist.
    In the midst of intense anti-CAA movement, Gogoi was
arrested on December 12 last year from Jorhat as a "preventive
measure" in view of the deteriorating law and order situation
in the state and his three colleagues were taken into custody
the next day.
    They were later handed over to the National
Investigation Agency for probing their alleged role in the
violent protest and their possible links with Maoist elements.
    Earlier, the Special NIA Court had granted bail to
Gogoi on March 17 on the Chandmari police station case and
subsequently to others after the investigating agency failed
to file a charge sheet within the specified period of 90 days.
The Gauhati High Court later stayed the bail.
    His three associates -- Dhaijya Konwar, Bittu Sonowal
and Manash Konwar -- have now got bail in the NIA case and
were released from the jail.
    The NIA is investigating two cases, which were
initially registered at Chandmari and Chabua police stations,
related to the alleged role of Gogoi and his three colleagues
in the violent protests.
    On May 29, the NIA filed the charge sheet in the
Chandmari case against Gogoi and three of his colleagues for
sedition and terror activities for their alleged role in
violent protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in
December last year.
    The four leaders were later arrested in a number of
old cases registered across different police stations in
Assam. They have got bail in most of these cases.
    Gogoi was granted bail on July 16 by the Gauhati High
Court on three Assam Police's cases related to the burning of
a post office, circle office and a branch of United Bank of
India at Chabua of Dibrugarh district during anti-CAA protest.

(This story has not been edited by THE WEEK and is auto-generated from PTI)