Hiren Gohain charged with sedition: By fighting for secular basis of citizenship and dignity of Assam, we're fighting India, says literary critic

Assam Police has filed a case against three intellectuals of the state on charges of sedition after they raised the issue of separate statehood for Assam if the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016 was passed by the government.

Upen Kalita, officer in charge of the Latasil police station in Guwahati, has filed the case against Dr Hiren Gohain, an intellectual and academician, Manjit Mahanta, a senior journalist, and Akhil Gogoi, an RTI activist and leader of the peasant organisation named Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti under the number 15/2019 under section 120(B), 121/123/124 of Indian Penal Code.

In a public rally in Guwahati against the Citizenship Amendment Bill on 7 January, the activists had allegedly stated that they were going to raise the demand of breaking out of the Indian nation if the Citizenship Amendment Bill was passed by the Centre.

Assam has been on the boil after the Bill, which intends to give citizenship to refugees on the basis of religion, was tabled in the Parliament during the Winter Session.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The FIR reads: “On 7/01/19, under the leadership of Manjit Mahanta, a citizen meeting was held in Guwahati Club under Latasil Police Station from 1:30 pm to 4:00 pm against the Citizenship Amendment Bill. In this meeting intellectual Dr. Hiren Gohain, noted journalist Haidar Hussain, Lachit Bordoloi, Akhil Gogoi from KMSS along with former Chief Ministers of Assam - Prafulla Kumar Mahanta (AGP) and Tarun Gogoi(Congress), former DGP of Assam Harekrishna Deka, Hemen Das from CPM participated. In this meeting, they hurled slogans of 'Murdabad' against honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal while opposing the bill and declared the day as 'Dhikkar Divas'."

The FIR further reads: “In this meeting Akhil Gogoi while giving speech against the Citizenship Bill, stressed on the need of creating a separate nation out of India. He urged for the support of the people of Assam which threatens the sovereignty of India. He also said that he was living in non-independent country and wanted to live in a free country. Dr. Hiren Gohain in his speech supported Akhil Gogoi and said that if necessary they would go to villages of Assam and gain support against the government of India and Assam. So, though the meeting was held democratically but these people threatened the sovereignty of the country and so I urge to take action against these people.”

On the other hand, over hundreds of supporters of Dr Gohain reached his home to prevent arrest of the intellectual in his house in Guwahati.

Dr Gohain said, “I have come to learn that an FIR has been prepared by the police in a local police station accusing me of sedition against the state. I do not yet have the details. The police have not contacted met yet nor have I any idea of the kind of evidence on which the charges have been raised. As far as my knowledge goes, there was a joint rally of Forum Against Citizenship Amendment Bill and Left Democratic Front of 7th January. I have allegedly made a statement amounting to sedition there."

"In truth, some younger elements at the rally, in their indignation on the attitude of the government towards the bill and protests in Assam, mentioned the irrelevance of the freedom of Assam swadhinata. I intervened to state that such a demand can have relevance only, if and, when all democratic resources have been exhausted and if and when the state and all democratic parties and organisations of India reject the legitimate demands of the people of Assam. I had elaborated my stand by further stating that by fighting for the secular basis of citizenship of India and the dignity and rights of Assam in a federal polity, we are fighting for the fundamentally democratic state of India.”

Another accused Manjit Mahanta said, “The police has filed the case stating that we have mentioned the issue of independence of Assam on 7 January. The issue was raised by Akhil Googi and then, we talked of the same. We said that if New Delhi always neglects and disrespects the demand of Assam, and plays with the identity of the people of Assam, then people could raise the demand of independence. But that will happen democratically and with full faith on the Constitution of India. We never talked about armed struggles."

He further said that the government of Assam has been using the police to destroy the protest of the people against the Bill.

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Updated Date: Jan 14, 2019 08:37:29 IST

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