Jailed peasants’ rights activist Akhil Gogoi on Friday took oath as an MLA in the Assam Assembly after a National Investigation Agency court allowed him to do so. Gogoi, who had won the Sibsagar constituency in the recently held state elections, is the first person in Assam’s history to have won an election from jail, according to The Indian Express.

The 45-year old has been in jail since December 2019 after he staged a sit-in protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act. He is currently under treatment at Guwahati Medical College and Hospital, according to NDTV.

Meanwhile, Gogoi alleged that he was manhandled by government personnel before he was sworn in. In a video shared by several social media users, Gogoi could be seen being nudged by an unidentified person.

“This is an insult to the people of Assam,” Gogoi says in the video. “How can they do this? I have been tested but have you been tested for Covid? They cannot do this to an MLA inside the Assembly.”

Dalit rights’ activist and Independent MLA from Gujarat’s Vadgam Jignesh Mevani tweeted the video criticising the Assam government for its treatment of an elected representative.

Gogoi is the president of regional party the Raijor Dol but had contested the election as an Independent. He defeated Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Surabhi Rajkonwari by 11,875 votes.

The Raijor Dol had contested the polls along with Asom Jatiya Parishad, which was launched by the All Assam Students’ Union and the Asom Jatiyotabadi Chhatra Parishad – the two largest and most influential of nationalist student outfits in the state. The parties had united to fight the polls as a combined anti-CAA forum against the BJP.

Akhil Gogoi’s case

The activist was placed under preventive custody on December 12, 2019, after his protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act. The National Investigation Agency had said that Gogoi was booked for “waging a war against the nation”, conspiracy and rioting. Three days after his arrest, the activist was charged under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

The Citizenship Amendment Act, approved by Parliament on December 11, 2019, provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, on the condition that they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. It has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims. The Act sparked huge protests across the country.

Gogoi was granted bail in October and the Gauhati High Court upheld the verdict in April. However, he is yet to get bail in another case lodged against him by the investigative agency.