Sivasagar MLA in Assam and Raijor Dal chief Akhil Gogoi on Saturday said that efforts are being made to frame the case against him for his anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protests as a Maoist protest.
Akhil Gogoi had to appear before the National Investigation Agency (NIA) court in Guwahati for a hearing on the case against him for the anti-CAA protests.
Hearing of the case began from today in the NIA court. As per information received, he will have to appear again before the NIA court on June 30 for a hearing on both cases against him.
Meanwhile, speaking after the hour-long hearing today, Akhil Gogoi said, “They are trying to frame the anti-CAA protests as a Maoist protest and pin it against me.”
It may be noted that on March 3, the Supreme Court had extended Assam MLA Akhil Gogoi’s protection from arrest till March 13 in connection with a case related to anti-CAA protests and suspected links to Maoists.
An MLA from Sivasagar, Akhil Gogoi has been vocal against the central government during the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protests in Assam, had moved the apex court against the Gauhati High Court’s February 19 order which allowed the special NIA court in Assam to proceed with framing of charges against him in one of the two cases.
A bench comprising of justices V Ramasubramanian and Pankaj Mithal deferred the matter for another hearing on March 13 noting that the counsel for the petitioner was not available.
The bench observed, “Interim protection to continue till next date.”
Earlier, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) had told the SC that Akhil Gogoi cannot be granted bail as he is an alleged kingpin of Maoist activities in Assam even as Akhil Gogoi said that the cases against him were a result of “political vendetta”
In February, the bench had noted, “Let notice be served on the standing counsel for the State (NIA), for the limited purpose of considering the grant of protection to the petitioner from arrest pursuant to the impugned order, returnable on February 24, 2023. In the meantime, the petitioner ( Akhil Gogoi) shall be protected against arrest in connection with FIR bearing ... dated December 14, 2019, Police Station NIA, Guwahati.”
The high court had allowed the NIA to seek framing of charges in the special court against Akhil Gogoi and three associates of his, namely Dhajya Konwar, Manas Konwar and Bitu Sonowal, in connection with anti-CAA protests and suspected Maoist links. The order came based on the appeal of the NIA challenging the order of a special NIA court to give clean chit to the four.
The high court bench comprising justices Suman Shyam and Malasri Nandi asked the agency to go forward with framing charges against Akhil Gogoi and the rest after reopening the case.
Akhil Gogoi’s counsel Santanu Borthakur had said, “The high court has accepted NIA's plea to reopen the case and frame charges against the four persons. The case will be heard again in the Special NIA Court.”
Meanwhile, the other three accused, who had been granted bail in the NIA case, were released from the jail. Akhil Gogoi was the only one whose bail was rejected by the court and he was released after spending 567 days in jail after special NIA judge Pranjal Das cleared him along with the three others of all charges.
All of the four including Akhil Gogoi had been asked to appear before the special NIA court today. The NIA is probing two cases against Akhil Gogoi related to anti-CAA protests. The special NIA court had granted him bail in one of those cases which had been upheld by the Gauhati High Court too in April, 2021.
However, Akhil Gogoi continued to remain in judicial custody as his bail plea in the second case related to violence at anti-CAA protests was under investigation by the NIA. On July 1, 2021, the special NIA court released Akhil Gogoi and his three associates for their alleged role in the violent anti-CAA protests in Assam in December 2019.
The court observed that Akhil Gogoi’s ‘talk of blockade’ did not threaten the country’s economic security and was not ‘a terrorist act’. The NIA court then moved the Gauhati High Court to appeal to it so as to allow the agency to frame charges against Akhil Gogoi under various sections including sedition and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
The special NIA court had mentioned in a strongly worded order that in the interest of justice, it found the conduct and approach of the investigating authority in the case to be “discouraging” at the least.
The order read, “The court has high expectations from a premier investigating agency like the NIA, entrusted with the profoundly important task of protecting our country and us, citizens from the menace of terrorism. The court hopes and expects that such high standards will be upheld, for the sake of the country and this one will be just an exception.”