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On Wednesday, Assam-based peasant rights organization Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) condemned the National Investigation Agency’s (NIA) effort to allegedly establish that KMSS leaders and the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests were guided by a Maoist ideology, The Telegraph reported.
KMSS leaders Akhil Gogoi, Dhaijya Konwar, Manash Konwar and Bitu Sonowal are currently in jail. Out of them, Akhil Gogoi, Dhaikya Konwar and Bitu Sonowal have been in jail since December 16 and have been charged under the Unlawful Activities and Prevention Act (UAPA), 1967. Gogoi has also been booked for charges of criminal conspiracy and promoting enmity between different groups of people. All of the leaders have faced continuous incarceration with new cases being slapped against them despite them acquiring bail.
KMSS Joint General Secretary Mukut Deka spoke about the 40-page chargesheet filed by the NIA which was not made public, saying it had “loopholes” and that the agency was somehow trying to brand KMSS members even when they had no basis.
Deka told The Telegraph, “We just have one thing to say: leading a democratic mass movement does not make one a Maoist. Reading books on Maoism does not make one a Maoist. The anti-CAA movement is a people’s movement. People are protesting because they fear about their identity and culture. NIA is saying KMSS leaders have a role in the violence during the anti-CAA protests and that it resembled like a Maoist attack. But we want to say we don’t believe in violence.”
He added that the NIA had seized books from the KMSS Chandmari office like The Communist Manifesto and Socialism: A Very Short Introduction, but that or using the words lal salaam and comrades didn’t mean that they subscribed to the Communist ideology.
KMSS leader Bhasco De Saikia held a press conference alleging that the out of the 40 pages of the chargesheet, only 19 pages mentioned the charges against Gogoi, with the rest being annexures, the News Mill reported. He also alleged that the two statements by anonymous witnesses used to prove the charge that Gogoi may have maintained links with Maoists, may have been done by coercing or bribing them. He told The News Mill, “The entire case is based on two anonymous state witnesses. There is no concrete evidence to prove any of the charges. Copies of 64 FIRs against them have been enclosed in the chargesheet in lieu of evidence.”
On May 14, the NIA had summoned journalist Manash Jyoti Baruah to question him regarding the violence during the anti-CAA protests in Assam and Gogoi’s alleged role in it, FirstPost reported. In the same manner, earlier last month, RTI activist and Swaraj Asom convener Bhaben Handique was also called by the NIA for the same reason, The Telegraph reported. Though Handique had left KMSS owing to an internal clash, he had maintained good terms with the leaders and said that he was being targeted due to his anti-CAA stand.
Both Deka and Saikia have said that the allegation of KMSS leaders having Maoist links was a disrespect to the emotions of the Assamese who have been leading the anti-CAA movement and said that if the leaders aren’t released immediately, the KMSS will start an agitation to ensure their release.
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