Guwahati: Peasant body Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) on Tuesday staged protests across Assam, demanding the release of its leader Akhil Gogoi as well as the repeal of the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
The members of the organisation defied prohibitory orders in Guwahati and were arrested, while at other places it formed human chains, performed songs and created artworks in support of their demand.
In the state capital, the KMSS supporters defied Section 144 and formed a human chain and shouted slogans, demanding Gogoi’s release and repeal of the Act.
“They did not have any permission to stage the protest. So, we arrested them for violating the prohibitory orders,” a senior police official said.
Gogoi is being treated at Gauhati Medical College and Hospital after testing positive for COVID-19. He contracted the virus in Guwahati Central Jail, where he was lodged for his alleged role in violent anti-CAA protests last year.
KMSS president Raju Bora said the group has restarted the anti-CAA movement from Tuesday and it will continue till the controversial law is repealed.
“This time, the agitation will be more united and powerful. The BJP government is scared of Akhil Gogoi and that is why they have put him in jail. They want to stop the peoples’ voice by imprisoning Gogoi,” he added.
In Jorhat city, artistes, students, educationists, advocates, journalists and common people joined the agitation and performed songs and recited poems, while painters created sketches to press for their demands.
Dergaon, Merapani, Bokakhat and many other places in Golaghat district too witnessed cultural protests.
In Dibrugarh, farmers staged a unique protest by planting rice seedlings on their paddy fields. People also formed human chains at several other places in the district.
In the Chenimari area of Barpeta, which is ravaged by the devastating flood, people protested standing and forming human chains on their country-made boats.
Similar artistic and variety of protest expressions were witnessed in other districts, including Tinsukia, Sivasagar, Charaideo, Nagaon, Morigaon, Dhemaji, Darrang, Kamrup, Bongaigaon, Sonitpur, Goalpara, Dhubri and Baksa.
The Hailakandi and Cachar districts of the Barak valley also saw some demonstrations, demanding the release of the RTI activist.
In the midst of intense anti-CAA movement, Gogoi was arrested on December 12 last year from Jorhat as a “preventive measure” in view of the deteriorating law and order situation in the state and his three colleagues were taken into custody the next day.
They were later handed over to the National
Investigation Agency for probing their alleged role in the violent protest and their possible links with Maoist elements.
Earlier, the Special NIA Court had granted bail to Gogoi on March 17 on the Chandmari police station case and subsequently to others after the investigating agency failed to file a charge sheet within the specified period of 90 days.
The Gauhati High Court later stayed the bail.
His three associates — Dhaijya Konwar, Bittu Sonowal and Manash Konwar — have now got bail in the NIA case and were released from the jail.
The NIA is investigating two cases, which were initially registered at Chandmari and Chabua police stations, related to the alleged role of Gogoi and his three colleagues in the violent protests.
On May 29, the NIA filed the charge sheet in the Chandmari case against Gogoi and three of his colleagues for sedition and terror activities for their alleged role in violent protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in December last year.
The four leaders were later arrested in a number of old cases registered across different police stations in Assam. They have got bail in most of these cases.
Gogoi was granted bail on July 16 by the Gauhati High Court on three Assam Police’s cases related to the burning of a post office, circle office and a branch of United Bank of India at Chabua of Dibrugarh district during anti-CAA protest.