Assam-based anti-corruption and Right to Information activist Akhil Gogoi has been charged with sedition, intention to cause riot against national integration, punishment for criminal conspiracy and unlawful association under the amended Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, junior lawyer Kishore Kalita told Scroll.in on Tuesday. Scroll.in has seen a copy of the first information report against Gogoi.
He has been booked under Section 120 B (punishment of criminal conspiracy), 124 A (sedition), 153 A (unlawful association) and 153 B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration), and Section 18/39 (punishment for conspiracy) of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
The National Investigation Agency had booked Gogoi on Saturday, two days after placing him under preventive arrest for protesting against the amendments to the Citizenship Act. Gogoi, an advisor of the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, had staged a sit-in protest outside the Jorhat deputy commissioner’s office, following which he was arrested.
“Over the period, we had inputs that Akhil Gogoi, his associates and some unidentified personshave been working in close coordination with Maoists trying to spread the Maoist functioning in the state of Assam,” said GP Singh, Assam’s newly appointed additional director general of police (law and order). “For this purpose they have used various parts of the country and for that purpose we had registered a case in Chandmari.”
Gogoi, speaking to Scroll.in at the National Investigation Agency court in Guwahati on Tuesday, dismissed the allegations of having Maoist links. “It’s totally false,” he said. “[I’ve] never been involved with Maoists, never will be. This is a ploy to suppress the people’s uprising.”
Singh also claimed that Gogoi and his associates had helped orchestrate the violence that broke out in Assam after the Citizenship Amendment Act was passed by Parliament. “We also had inputs that they were behind the conspiracy that led to the recent violence in Assam,” said Singh. “As part of that violence we registered a case and, since provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act were incorporated in the case, we forwarded it to NIA as per procedure. After due diligence, the NIA found it fit for investigation.”
The amended Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act empowers the central government to designate an individual as a “terrorist” if he or she is found to be committing, preparing for, promoting, or being involved in an act of terrorism. The Centre can also designate an individual as a terrorist through a notification in the official gazette. Gogoi could be the first person to be tried under the amended act.
The amended Citizenship Act, which was passed by both Houses of Parliament last week, will grant citizenship to six persecuted communities, except Muslims, from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan provided they have resided in India for six years. The cut-off date is December 31, 2014.
Assam has been the epicentre of protests against the new law. At least five people have died in the state so far during clashes with the police. Assam Director General of Police BJ Mahanta on Tuesday said more than 190 people have been arrested. Bharatiya Janata Party’s ally Asom Gana Parishad on Saturday said it will oppose the amendments to the Citizenship Act, days after voting for it in the Parliament. The party said it will approach the Supreme Court against the act.
Correction: An earlier version of this piece said Akhil Gogoi had been charged under Section 120 A, and not 124 A, of the Indian Penal Code. The error is regretted.