As per the requirements of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) leader Akhil Gogoi, and two other KMSS leaders, Bitu Sonowal and Dhaijya Konwar, submitted his voice samples to Assam’s Forensic Science Laboratory at Kahilipara on Monday, reported Telegraph India.
The voice samples were taken by the NIA to match the acquired telephonic conversations it had of the KMSS leaders allegedly plotting conspiracies against the government. While coming out of the forensic laboratory, Gogoi told reporters that he had been victimized for protesting against the government and vehemently opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
It is noteworthy that voice sampling and the use of audio evidence has been a subject of debate for decades. The Scientific American reports that concerns were raised as far back as in 1997 when the French Acoustical Society issued a public request to end the use of forensic voice science in the courtroom after the case of Jerome Prieto, a man who spent 10 months in prison because of a controversial police investigation that erroneously identified Prieto’s voice in a phone call claiming credit for a car bombing. Moreover, a survey published in June 2016 in the journal Forensic Science International by INTERPOL, the international organization that represents the police forces of 190 countries, showed that half of the respondents (21 out of 44)—belonging to police forces from all over the world—employ techniques that have long been known to have shaky scientific grounds.
Gogoi who has been in jail for 137 days now, said, “The government is only trying to keep me behind bars without any proof.” He also added that the government must bring back the stranded people of the state and compensate farmers who are having to bear the brunt of the lockdown. InsideNE reported him as saying, “We love our motherland Assam, we oppose the CAA and that’s why the government is harassing us. I request all the Assamese people to live happily and peacefully during this situation and I strongly urge the government to take all possible measures to bring the 5 – 6 lakh Assamese youth back to Assam from different parts of the country. The farmers loans should be waived off and they should be given a financial package.”
President of the Satra Mukti Sangram Samiti, Bittu Sonowal said, “We urge to the government to give total relaxation to all the agriculture loans of the farmers and the loans by microfinance which has seriously affected the rural economy at this hard time of the breaking of corona.”
Dhaijya Konwar, Joint Secretary of the KMSS said, “During the lockdown period, government should give Rs. 6,000 per month to all the poor and lower middle class families.”
The NIA had accused the KMSS leader of having connections with Maoists since 2009. Akhil was sent to judicial custody till May 13 after Gauhati High Court, in an interim order, stayed the “default” bail, which was granted by a special NIA court after the agency failed to submit a chargesheet in the case within the stipulated 90 days’ time.
NIA sources had said that their investigation had established that Gogoi had asked some KMSS leaders in 2009 to undergo training in the Odisha unit of frontal CPI (Maoist) for a month.
Regarding the ongoing investigation which is happening in a virtual set-up due to the coronavirus, Gogoi’s advocate Z Kamar said, “We have prayed for a larger bench of the high court to take up the matter as he has been kept behind bars for a long time, violating his fundamental rights.”
We The People of India, a conglomerate of organizations against CAA, has issued a press release condemning Gogoi’s continued incarceration. It says, “This pattern of re-arresting Akhil Gogoi in old cases, when the charge sheets could not be filed, is an attempt at circumventing the judicial scrutiny of executive actions.” It also asked the Supreme Court to take suo-moto cognizance in the matter. The statement condemned Gogoi’s arrest “particularly in view of the fact that the Supreme Court itself had advised the release of even convicted prisoners on bail/parole due to the Covid-19 pandemic”.
Gogoi’s health has been reported to be deteriorating during his time in prison and it has come to notice that the jail authorities haven’t provided proper treatment to him. The organization demands that Gogoi be released forthwith and all cooked up charges against him under draconian laws be dropped.
Press release condemning the continued incarceration of Akhil Gogoi.#ReleaseAkhilGogoi pic.twitter.com/Wp6I4VG5wd
— We The People of India (@ThePeopleOfIN) April 25, 2020
Gauhati HC denies default bail to Akhil Gogoi in UAPA case, as NIA investigation pending
Covid-19: State governments continue to release prisoners on parole and interim bail