In its charge-sheet against Bitu Sonowal, a close aid of peasant leader Akhil Gogoi, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has mentioned that Sonowal had extensively used words like ‘comrade’ and ‘Lal Salam’ while referring to some of his friends and that he should be booked under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
Thus, this indicated that from now on if someone in Assam uses ‘Lal Salam’ or ‘comrade’ in a social media post, then he/she may be booked under UAPA in Assam.
The NIA had arrested Sonowal and two other aides of Akhil Gogoi earlier this year under various charges of UAPA.
Peasant leader Akhil Gogoi was arrested during the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests n December 2019 and since then he has been under detention in connection with an NIA case (13/2019) under Sections 120B, 253A, 153B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Sections 18 and 39 of UAPA.
The NIA, in its charge-sheet filed on May 29, has also mentioned that Sonowal had also uploaded one photo of Lenin with the words, “The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them”.
However, the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) has said that the NIA’s 40-page charge-sheet contains no tangible proof to establish any of the allegations against its leaders.
“The NIA has been trying to brand KMSS leaders as Maoists,” said KMSS president Bhasco Saikia.
“One cannot be labelled as a Maoist if someone reads books available openly in the market,” Saikia added.
“Apart from a few books on Maoism and some posts where terms like ‘comrade’ and ‘Lal Salam’ have been used, the NIA has nothing else against Gogoi, Sonowal and other arrested KMSS leaders,” he further said.