GUWAHATI: The Gauhati High Court on Thursday absolved RTI activist and peasants’ leader Akhil Gogoi of sedition charges and ordered an inquiry into the apparent irregularities perpetrated by the Assam government during his arrest.
The HC, which passed the verdict after conducting eight rounds of hearings, ordered the state’s chief secretary to institute the inquiry.
Gogoi, the leader of peasants’ body Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), was arrested under the National Security Act (NSA) by the Dibrugarh police on September 13, for allegedly instigating people at a public rally to take up arms.
The rally was organised days after a surrendered militant of United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) was assaulted by a group of traders, including non-Assamese, in central Assam’s Nagaon town. The incident had flared up communal tension in the area.
However, despite the HC verdict, Gogoi won't be free to walk out of jail as there is another case registered against him with the Moran police station in Dibrugarh district. Whether he will be granted bail in the case is something which remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, the KMSS, besides opposition Congress, welcomed the court’s exoneration of Gogoi.
KMSS leader Pradip Saloi said, “The idea behind slapping additional charges against him (Gogoi) was aimed at choking a powerful voice so that the BJP could dump the Bangladeshi Hindu immigrants in Assam, complete the 2,000 MW Lower Subansiri Hydel Project in (northern Assam’s) Gerukamukh and win ensuing civic elections.”
For the past few years, Gogoi has been leading an anti-corruption movement and fighting for the homeless besides staging protests against the hydel project.
In regard to the power project, there is a widespread fear over the alleged lack of safety in the case of an earthquake and subsequent downstream impact.
Earlier, an expert committee had expressed certain reservations about the project. The work on the project, being carried out by the National Hydro-electric Power Corporation, has been on a standstill since December 2011 in the wake of protests.