Eminent citizens flay arrest
Altogether 29 leading citizens from across the country said in a statement released on Wednesday that they were “deeply worried” about the “consequences for Indian democracy” given the Assam government’s “callous attitude” towards the “continuous detention” of KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi through repeated arrests in various cases despite being granted bail.
The statement came on a day Akhil was re-arrested by Dibrugarh police after getting bail in a Sivasagar case. Akhil was first arrested by the Assam police on December 12 from Jorhat at the peak of the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) agitation.
Apurba Kumar Baruah, retired professor of North Eastern Hill University (Nehu) and a senior member of Sustha Samaj Bikash Chakra, released the statement which was “endorsed” by Rajmohan Gandhi, author Mrinal Pande, intellectual Hiren Gohain, poet Ashok Vajpeyi, lawyer Prashant Bhushan, MP Ajit Kumar Bhuyan, social activist Paresh Malakar and editor Prasanta Rajguru, among others.
Gandhi, author and grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, endorsed the statement through a mail after it was released, Baruah told The Telegraph.
Narrating Akhil’s “ordeal”, the statement said, “By repeatedly re-arresting Gogoi, the police have violated the personal liberty of the activist. This practice of re-arresting accused in old cases, when chargesheets could not be filed in any major charge, is an attempt at circumventing the judicial scrutiny of executive actions. It is, of course, a gross violation of the norms of natural justice. The higher judiciary needs to intervene to protect the human rights of activists who try to correct apparently unwise actions of any government.”
The statement also highlighted Akhil’s “deteriorating” health. It alleged that “the jail authorities have not been giving him proper treatment”, as a result of which “the NIA special court had to order a check-up and constitute a medical board to monitor his health”.
The statement said, “We fear something serious might happen to him, particularly, when the Supreme Court has asked authorities to release even some convicts because of the spread of coronavirus. We urge upon the higher judiciary to take suo moto action in this matter. The government must be prevented from using such tactics to fight political opponents.”
In February, 42 scholars and academicians from across the country had come together to write to the NIA to “treat with dignity” Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati (IIT-G) professor Arupjyoti Saikia, who was being questioned in connection with the anti-CAA protests in the state in December.