Peasants’ rights activist and Assam MLA Akhil Gogoi was released from jail on Thursday after a special National Investigation Agency court cleared him in the second of the two cases filed against him under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, PTI reported.
He had been in jail since December 2019 after being charged under the stringent law in two separate cases in connection with protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act in Assam. Last month, Gogoi and two of his associates were acquitted in one of the cases.
Speaking to reporters after his release, Gogoi thanked his supporters and said the verdict marked the victory of India’s legal system.
The NIA was investigating two cases under UAPA 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 June 23, Gogoi was cleared in the Chabua case.
On Thursday, NIA Special Judge Pranjal Das acquitted Gogoi and his three associates Dhairjya Konwar, Manas Konwar and Bitu Sonowal in connection with the Chandmari case in which they were accused of having Maoist links. The three others were already out of custody on bail.
“The court’s ruling has exposed the Assam government’s attempts to target our party president,” Bhasco de Saikia, Working President of the Raijor Dal, told The Hindu. “We hope to see him under the open sky soon.”
Raijor Dal is the political wing of Gogoi’s peasants’ rights group Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti.
Gogoi had contested the Assembly elections in Assam in March-April and won from Sibsagar constituency. He is the first person in the state’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.
A total of 12 cases were filed against him across Assam after violence broke out during the protests. Of these, the two registered in 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.