Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Monday claimed that jailed peasants’ rights activist and newly-elected MLA Akhil Gogoi was “not in a sound mental state” to attend the Assembly session, PTI reported.
Replying to a discussion on the Motion of Thanks on the governor’s address, Sarma dismissed the Opposition’s request to allow Gogoi to attend the session. “He [Gogoi] is getting treatment for psychological issues,” the chief minister claimed in the Assembly. “He is getting treatment for emotional imbalance and mental disease.”
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. Gogoi, who had won the Sibsagar constituency in the recently held Assembly elections, is the first person in Assam’s history to have won an election from jail. On May 21, he took oath as an MLA after getting permission from a special National Investigation Agency court.
Sarma also claimed that Gogoi forgot to follow coronavirus-related protocols when he came to the Assembly last week. “He just went to every member inside the House,” he continued. “This is a pre-warning of a disease. The doctors of the GMCH told me that this is his disease. I asked the doctors that he looks healthy, so why have you kept him in the hospital? Is it to help him anyway? They said no sir, this is his disease.”
The Bharatiya Janata Party leader said an unwell person “cannot be exposed” and that he was admitted to the hospital for the same reason. “If he says he is not sick, [then] he should be in jail,” Sarma added, according to the Hindustan Times. “And if he is sick, he should not attend the Assembly.”
Gogoi’s party Raijor Dal said Sarma’s comments were insulting and a breach of the MLA’s privilege. “The chief minister used insulting and demeaning words against our party president,” Raijor Dal working president Bhasco De Saikia said. “Sarma doesn’t have what it takes to face Gogoi and hence uses all means to ensure he doesn’t take part in the Assembly.”
Meanwhile, senior advocate Santanu Borthakur said it is not clear what treatment was being given to Gogoi. “That is a secret between the patients and the doctors,” he wrote on Facebook. “If for some reason, the treatment of ‘mental illness’ is going on as the chief minister said, it is unethical to make it public because of social stigma related to mental illness. Arrangements have been made to protect the privacy of patients. Section 23 of The Mental Health Care Act has mentioned this. Not just mental illness, there can be no public discussion about any patient’s disease.”