An NIA (National Investigation Agency) court in Assam on Thursday discharged Sibasagar MLA Akhil Gogoi of all charges in connection with the anti-CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) protests. This means that the court did not find sufficient grounds presented in the chargesheet to charge Gogoi of any crime that he has been accused of.
Gogoi, who founded the farmers' body Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), has now been cleared in both the NIA cases filed at Chauba and Chandmari in Guwahati for allegedly inciting violence during the anti-CAA protests in Assam.
On December 12, 2019, the Assam police arrested Gogoi as a "preventive measure" in view of the worsening situation in the state.
The NIA, which later took over both the cases, had charged Gogoi under the draconian provisions of the UAPA, and relevant provisions of the Indian Penal Code including sedition and promotion enmity between two religions.
On June 29, the NIA had filed a supplementary chargesheet against Gogoi based on information from a "protected witness". A protected witness is one whose details were withheld until they presented in court.
The court's decision to discharge Gogoi came after taking note of the additional chargesheet and our objections in this matter, Gogoi advocate Santanu Borthakur said speaking to BOOM.
On June 21, Special NIA judge Pranjal Das observed that there was inadequate material to attribute any act of terrorism under UAPA, discharging Gogoi in the first NIA case. "If the contents of the speech of A-1 Sri Akhil Gogoi do not contain instigation of violence etc., simply the statements by some of the witnesses about A-1 giving provocative speech leading to violence could not relied on in my considered view to impose criminal liability on A-1 Sri Akhil Gogoi," Judge Das had said.
"In the large gatherings, where speeches are delivered on contentious issues, it is possible for the crowd to get excited and some unruly elements therein might take undue advantage of the situation to indulge in unacceptable behavior. The omission on the part of A-1 as revealed by the statements of some witnesses is that after some vandalism started, he did not do anything to stop it. However, in my considered view, that in itself would not impose criminal liabilities on him (A-1), though it might have been his moral responsibility to try and do something about it," the court added.
Earlier this year in May, the NIA court had granted Gogoi permission to take oath as legislator of Assam Assembly. Gogoi—who also founded the political party Raijor Dol, became the first person from Assam to win an election from jail after defeating BJP's Surabhi Rajkonwari by nearly 12,000 votes in the recently concluded assembly polls.