The National Investigation Agency, in its chargesheet against Bittu Sonowal, an associate of Assam activist Akhil Gogoi, said that he should be booked under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, as he had used words like “comrade” and “Lal Salam” on social media, Outlook reported on Friday.
In January, the NIA had arrested Sonowal and two other aides of Gogoi under various charges of the UAPA. The amended UAPA allows the government to proscribe individuals as terrorists and empowers more officers of the NIA to investigate cases. A person charged under the Act can be jailed for up to seven years. Gogoi, also charged under the UAPA, was arrested in December when Assam witnessed several protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
In its chargesheet filed on May 29, the investigating agency said that Sonowal had uploaded a photo of Communist icon Vladimir Lenin with the words, “The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them”, according to Northeast Now.
However, the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, an organisation with which Gogoi is associated, said that the agency’s 40-page chargesheet has no concrete evidence to establish any of the allegations against its leaders. The organisation’s president Bhasco Saikia said that the NIA was attempting to prove that KMSS leaders had Maoist links.
“The NIA wants to establish that Akhil Gogoi is a Maoist but they couldn’t give any concrete evidence, Saikia told Outlook. “They also mentioned about the books on Maoism. The NIA had seized books like ‘An Introduction to Socialism’ and ‘Communist Manifesto’ among others. These books were bought from [an] open market. This is ridiculous.”
Saikia said that the anti-CAA protests were a people’s movement. “People are protesting because they fear about their identity and culture, he added. “NIA is saying that KMSS leaders have a role in the violence during the anti-CAA protests and that it resembled a Maoist attack. But we don’t believe in violence.”
Gogoi was arrested in December for leading a protest against the CAA outside the Jorhat deputy commissioner’s office. The NIA said that Gogoi was booked for “waging a war against the nation”, conspiracy and rioting. He was later booked under the amended UAPA.
He was granted bail on March 17 by a special NIA court after the investigating agency failed to file a chargesheet against him within the specified period of 90 days. However, he was arrested again, just two days later.