Gogoi charged under sedition, anti-terror law

Guwahati, Jun 5 (PTI) Reading the 'Communist Manifesto', Lenin's works, Mao's life, calling friends 'Comrade' and greeting them with 'Lal Salaam' are among the reasons cited by the NIA for charging peasant leader and activist Akhil Gogoi under sedition and anti-terror laws.

The National Investigation Agency filed the charge sheet, a copy of which is with PTI, before the Special Judge, NIA, in Guwahati on May 29 under sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 124A (sedition), 153A (promoting enmity between two groups on grounds of religion, race etc), 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration) of the IPC.

Provisions of sections 18 and 39 of the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, an anti-terror law, were also invoked against him and three others. If convicted, they may end up getting sentenced for life.

The special NIA court had granted bail to Gogoi on March 17 and subsequently to others after the investigating agency failed to file a charge sheet within the stipulated 90 days. The Gauhati High Court later stayed the bail.

The NIA is investigating the alleged terror angle behind the violent protests against the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act across Assam in December last year. Gogoi and three other Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) leaders--Dhairjya Konwar, Bittu Sonowal and Manash Konwar--are accused in the case.

'During the investigation, incriminating documents, material objects, have been seized. Further, statements of witnesses in connection with the instant case have been recorded which reveal the conspiracy of the accused,' the charge sheet said.

The NIA claimed it seized a number of books on 'communist ideology' such as 'Communist Manifesto' in Assamese, 'Lenin's Selected Works' in English and a book on Mao Zedong in Assamese.

Besides, 'Introduction to Socialism' and a number of other books on socialism and dialectical materialism were also seized, the anti-terror probe agency said, presenting a long list of such literature with the charge sheet and alleging that the accused followed the ideology of the CPI (Maoist), a banned organisation.

The charge sheet, the main body of which is of only 20 pages and has been prepared by NIA Additional Superintendent of Police D R Singh, has three annexures -- lists of witnesses, documents and material objects.

'Bittu Sonowal had referred to some friends and they addressed him as 'Comrade' and used words 'Lal Salam',' the NIA said and attached a DVD containing the Facebook profile of the accused.

'One of his Facebook post(s) is of a picture of Lenin with words 'The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them',' the charge sheet said.

Gogoi's stand against illegal foreigners has also found mention in the charge sheet.

'...we will not accept any foreigner either Hindu or Muslim. We will not accept, will not accept, and will not accept,' the NIA said, referring to a video downloaded from Facebook where he addressed the media on April 1 this year.

The agency also made the peasant leader's call for an economic blockade by stopping transportation of 'natural resources from here like...crude oil, coal, tea, limestone etc...' to accuse him of involvement in terror activities.

The NIA alleged that Gogoi had several secret meetings with members of the CPI(Maoist) and even sent around 15 cadres/members of KMSS in batches of five each to train in the camps of the underground ultra-Left outfit.

'They were imparted with training in their ideology, handling of arms and explosives, tactics of mass mobilisation to carry seditious activities in grab of opposing lawfully established government,' it added.

The charge sheet claimed the accused have for long been 'organising seditious activities disrupting government works' in Assam in the name of dissent. It said their activities had 'tactical resemblance' with the modus operandi of the CPI(Maoist).

Gogoi was arrested on December 12 from Jorhat as a 'preventive measure' in view of the deteriorating law and order situation in the state during the protests against the CAA. PTI TR SK SK SK