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‘Anti-CAA agitation was not a Satyagraha but it fell under terror activities’: Gauhati High Court while dismissing activist Akhil Gogoi’s bail plea

The court said that by use of violence, the protestors had brushed aside the noble concept of non-violent protest

The Gauhati High Court on Thursday turned down the bail plea of ‘activist’ Akhil Gogoi, who has been lodged in jail since December 2019 on various charges, including sedition and inciting violence during the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act movement. The High Court upheld the decision by a special NIA court that had rejected Gogoi’s bail plea in one of the 13 cases registered against him. Gogoi had received bail in all the 13 cases, except this one.

The High Court, in its order, made scathing observations while dismissing Gogoi’s bail plea. It said that anti-CAA agitation was not a Satyagraha as portrayed by the partakers but fell into terror activities defined under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

The court said that the use of violence in the name of protest can’t be termed as satyagraha. The division bench of Justices Kalyan Rai Surana and Ajit Bathakur said in its order, “by use of violence, the appellant-led mob had brushed aside the noble concept of non-violent protest, which is popularly known as satyagraha and that such conduct of paralyzing the government machinery, causing economic blockade, causing enmity between groups, disruption of public peace an widespread disharmony and dissatisfaction towards the government, are acts which are prejudicial/for national integration and such acts squarely falls within the definition of “terrorist act” as defined in section 15 of the UA(P) Act.”

Gogoi had managed to secure bail in one of the two cases registered by the NIA in connection with his alleged involvement in violent protests against CAA in Assam. This was the only case left where the special NIA court had rejected his bail plea. A division bench of Gauhati Court upheld the NIA court’s decision and dismissed the bail petition filed by Gogoi.

Akhil Gogoi arrested in December 2019 for inciting violence and protests against CAA

The NIA had registered a case against Akhil Gogoi, the leader of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), for his role in in the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) protests in the state that claimed at last six lives, three in police firing in December 2019.

The case was initially filed at the Chandmari police station in Guwahati but was later transferred to the NIA. Gogoi has been charged under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, sedition, criminal conspiracy, support to terrorist organisations, among others. He was arrested at Jorhat on 12 December 2019 for his role in the protests against the CAA, a legislation passed by the central government to fast forward citizenship to minorities belonging to Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Three of his associates were arrested a day later.

Gogoi was subsequently handed over to the NIA and a court sent him to 10 days custody of the agency on December 17. He was also taken to New Delhi for interrogation. Gogoi was brought back to Guwahati on December 25 and has been in judicial custody ever since.

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