The Gauhati High Court on Friday granted interim bail to Assamese academic Hiren Gohain and anti-corruption activist Akhil Gogoi and absolute bail to former journalist Manjit Mahanta in a sedition case. Police had filed a sedition case against them on Thursday for allegedly speaking “against the law” at a public meeting in connection with the related to the controversial Citizenship Bill.
Justice HK Sarma ordered Gohain and Gogoi to pay a surety of Rs 5,000 each. The court also directed the state police to submit the case diary by January 22.
Gohain had said at a meeting on Monday in protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill that if the Centre keeps disrespecting the sentiments of the people of Assam, people will be forced to demand an independent Assam.
Gohain, however, told ANI that he does not think he said anything seditious at the meeting. “I have been told a sedition case has been registered against me but I have not received any notice from the police as yet,” Gohain said.
The Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed the bill that seeks to amend the Citizenship Act of 1955 to grant citizenship to Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan if they have lived in India for six years. According to the draft law, they will be granted citizenship even if they do not possess the required documents.
The passage of the bill stoked further tension in Assam and led to mass protests. The Asom Gana Parishad, an ally of the BJP, pulled out of the coalition earlier this week, and three of its state ministers quit on Wednesday.