A special National Investigation Agency court on Tuesday cleared jailed peasants’ rights activist Akhil Gogoi in one of the two cases filed against him in connection with protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act in Assam in 2019, Live Law reported.
Gogoi will, however, continue to be in judicial custody as another case against him is still pending.
The NIA is investigating two cases under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act against Gogoi and his associates. One case was filed at the Chabua police station in Assam’s Dibrugarh district, while the other was registered at Chandmari police station in Guwahati. On Tuesday, Gogoi was cleared in the Chabua case. Two of Gogoi’s associates were also acquitted.
Special NIA judge Pranjal Das said: “I do not find a prima-facie case for the purpose of framing charge, to hold him personally criminally liable for offences of rioting, unlawful assembly causing damage to property, causing hurt to public official on duty.”
Bhasco de Saikia, the head of Raijor Dal, which is the political wing of Gogoi’s Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti told The Wire that the acquittal proved that the activist and his associates had been framed in the case. “This is the fascist tendency of the present regime,” he said. “The people of Assam should wake up against this.”
Gogoi had contested the Assembly elections in Assam in March-April and won from Sibsagar constituency. He 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 the special NIA court.
Gogoi had been jailed in December 2019 for leading a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act outside the deputy commissioner’s office in Jorhat. The NIA accused Gogoi of waging a war against the nation, conspiracy and rioting.
Gogoi had led more than 60 organisations in the anti-CAA protests, according to NDTV. A total of twelve cases were filed against him across Assam after violence broke out during the protests, The Wire reported.
Of these 12 cases, Chandmari and Chabua were taken over by the NIA in 2020. The investigation agency added UAPA charges to the cases.
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.