Speaking up for Assamese is my crime: Akhil Gogoi
RSSbacked BJP govt has arrested me for speaking up for Assamese (as) I opposed the decision to dump outsiders, specifically Hindus from Bangladesh, on Assam
Activist Akhil Gogoi, arrested on charges of sedition on Wednesday, said the Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition government has targeted him for speaking up for the Assamese.
He also warned of an uprising of the indigenous communities as members of his peasants’ body, Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) protested across the state on Thursday demanding his release within 24 hours.
On Thursday afternoon, a local court in eastern Assam’s Dibrugarh gave the police four days’ custody of Gogoi. The police had sought 14 days.
The day saw KMSS members blocking highways for several hours seeking Gogoi’s unconditional release. Many camped outside the central police station in eastern Assam’s Dibrugarh town where Gogoi has been kept.
Most protests were held in minority-dominated areas such as Morigaon, Barpeta, Hojai and Kalgasia.
Dibrugarh deputy commissioner Laya Madduri said a few companies of paramilitary forces have been deployed in the town to maintain peace. “Law will take its own course,” she told reporters, replying to a question on what Gogoi’s future.
The Dibrugarh police had arrested Gogoi from his residence in Golaghat town, about 180km west, for “hatred-spewing speech” at a public rally on Tuesday. He was slapped with six sections of the IPC, including Section 121 for “waging, or attempting to wage war, or abetting waging of war, against the Government of India” and Section 124(A) dealing with sedition.
The police said Gogoi had “delivered speeches against communal harmony and announced that they are ready to use hangdang (machete) and AK-47 rifle” in their movement against the government’s bid to settle outsiders.
“The RSS-backed BJP government has arrested me for speaking up for the Assamese people. My crime is that I opposed the government’s decision to dump outsiders, specifically Hindus from Bangladesh, on Assam,” an agitated Gogoi told reporters at the police station.
The KMSS leader accused chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal and health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma of betraying the Assamese people to appease Bengali Hindu migrants that the RSS wants rehabilitated.
Sonowal, reacting to the arrest, said his government cannot tolerate anyone threatening to take up arms. “Such threats undermine democracy,” he said.
But opposition parties said the government has tried to curb the freedom of expression. “Gogoi’s arrest was unwarranted,” said Badruddin Ajmal, chief of All India United Democratic Front.
Sunday and BJP leaders will wield broom, again, to promote clean India. India’s ruling party has decided to observe September 17, prime minister Narendra Modi’s birthday, as Sewa Divas to promote his pet scheme Swachh Bharat.
Ministers, MPs, MLAs and district level office-bearers of the party have been asked to undertake social activities as part of the PM’s birthday celebration.
“Party leaders will take part in cleanliness drive at public places like bus stand, hospital and others,” a leader said. Health camps will also be organised.
BJP had organised similar events last year, with party chief Amit Shah taking part in Clean India programme in Telangana.
On his birthday, Modi will be in Gujarat to attend Narmada Mahotsav programme, an event to celebrate the completion of the Sardar Sarovar Dam project which people in Madhya Pradesh have been protesting against, alleging that those who have lost their homes have not been rehabilitated by the BJP government.
Sewa Divas, party leaders say, will be an occasion to highlight Modi’s commitment to achieve ‘clean India’ by 2022 – the 75th year of India’s Independence.