By Our Correspondent, TNT News | GUWAHATI, Nov 22, 2017
The arrest of peasants’ rights leader Akhil Gogoi under National Security Act (NSA) has created waves of discontentment amongst many in Assam with majority of them blaming the BJP led government of muzzling the voices of protest against its ‘anti-people’ policies.
“Sarbananda Sonowal government is scared of Akhil Gogoi because he has continuously exposed the BJP government’s double standard policies on big dams, giving land to Bangladesh or protecting identity of indigenous people of Assam. Our agitation has often caused embarrassment for the BJP-led government. So it wants to muzzle our voice against its anti-people policies,” said Bhasco De Saikia, general secretary of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, the organisation which Akhil leads.
The KMSS has been leading agitation against big dams in Arunachal Pradesh and BJP’s move to grant citizenship to Hindu migrants from Bangladesh illegally living in Assam. “But our fight against big dams and giving citizenship to 1.9 crore Hindu Bangladeshis will continue. Because such a step will threaten the identity and culture of indigenous Assamese community,” Saikia said.
Akhil was arrested on September 18 on sedition charges for allegedly saying people would be forced to take up arms if Hindu Bangladeshis were granted citizenship, while addressing a rally in Dibrugarh district. Many, however, questioned why such a step was not taken against pro-talks Ulfa leaders who had openly threatened to take up arms following an attack on a group of Assamese youths in Nagaon town recently.
Assam police later booked Akhil under the National Security Act, a charge which was endorsed by the National Security Agency advisory committee on Saturday. Akhil can not apply for bail for the next 12 months under the NSA.
But the KMSS has moved Gauhati high Court against his detention under NSA. Only the high Court can strike down such a step. The high Court will hear his petition on Tuesday.
Many says the BJP government is acting so tough against Akhil as he had campaigned against BJP ahead of 2016 Assembly elections and KMSS protest halted work in the 2000 MW Lower Subansiri hydel power project since December 2010.
Akhil, who launched his political party, Ganamukti Sangram, Asom, in March 2015 had campaigned against the BJP ahead of 2016 Assembly elections. The BJP, however, won 60 seats in the 126-member Assembly and came to power with the AGP and the BPF as allies.
The KMSS continued its agitation against the BJP government’s support to big dams in Arunachal Pradesh and the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, that seeks to offer citizenship to people who are minorities in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The KMSS says big dams would have adverse impact in downstream areas in Assam and the identity of indigenous people would be at stake if Hindu Bangladeshis are granted citizenship.
Meanwhile, Opposition Congress opposed Akhil’s detention saying it was a step to silence the voice of protest against the BJP government’s “anti-people” policies.
The KMSS staged a protest across Assam while an umbrella body of 184 farmers’ organisation will launch a campaign at Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi on Tuesday seeking Akhil’s release. Following the campaign, Bhasco De Saikia, General secretary maintained that they will intensify the protest in the days to come.