Gauhati High Court grants bail to Hiren Gohain, Akhil & Mahanta

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Slapping of sedition case on Gohain is misuse of power: Gogoi

HT Bureau

GUWAHATI, Jan 11: The Gauhati High Court on Friday granted bail interim bail to noted scholar and critic Dr Hiren Gohain, Krishak Mukti Sangram Samity (KMSS) adviser Akhil Gogoi and journalist Manjit Mahanta in sedition cases.

A single bench judge comprising Justice HK Sharma granted interim bail to Dr Gohain and Gogoi and absolute bail to Mahanta.

The court granted interim bail to Gohain and Gogoi against a surety Rs 5,000 each. The court also directed the police to file the case diary by January 22.

The city police on Thursday slapped sedition charges against Dr Gohain, Gogoi and Mahanta over speeches made by them in a public meeting in Guwahati on January 7.

The High Court also asked the police to submit case diary on January 22. The court fixed January 22 as the next date of hearing of the case.

Police suo motu registered the case (no 15/2019) against the trio at the Latasil police station in Guwahati under sections 120B/121/123/ 124A (sedition).

Police had filed a suo motu case under IPC sections, including 121 (waging or attempting to wage war, or abetting waging of war, against government), 123 (concealing with intent to facilitate design to wage war) and 124(A) (sedition), at the Latasil police station here.

The case was filed on the basis of comments made by the three during a meeting on January 7 to protest against the Citizenship Amendment Bill.

The Bill, passed by the Lok Sabha on January 8, seeks to grant Indian citizenship to non-Muslims who fled religious persecution in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and entered India before December 31, 2014.

The suo motu case registered by police triggered off sharp reaction across the state as the social media was flooded with remarks supporting Dr Gohain.

Clarifying the issue, Dr Gohain has said he came to know that a sedition case has been filed against him, but was not aware on what basis it was registered. “I don’t know the details or on what basis, the case was filed but have heard that allegations have been made against me that I had ‘Independent Assam’ in my speech at the protest meeting on January 7 by the Forum Against Citizenship Act Amendment Bill (FACAAB),” he said.

“I had spoken thrice at the meeting and on all occasions, I had highlighted that citizenship should be on the basis of secular principles and the rightly demand of the Assamese on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill must be achieved by democratic means,” Dr Gohain said.

“Some people raised the question of independent Assam in the meeting. But my answer was that if all democratic struggle by different parties and organisations in the country fail to protect the interest and identity of the Assamese within the framework of the Indian Constitution, then the people will have no choice but to demand an Independent Assam”, he said.

Dr Gohain asserted that the people of Assam are fighting for their “rightful honour” (uchit maryada) and ”we are also fighting to safeguard the constitutional framework of our secular country”.

Meanwhile, former chief minister Tarun Gogoi slammed the Assam government for booking Sahitya Akademi awardee Dr Hiren Gohain and two others under sedition charge and said it shows “police raaj” is going on in “Hitler-Mussolini’s rule”.

During the day, a delegation under the leadership of Assam Pradesh Congress Committee Ripun Bora visited Gohain’s home and expressed solidarity with the erudite scholar.

“Slapping of sedition case on Gohain and others for speaking against the Citizenship Bill is exploitation by the government. It is misuse of power by brining police raaj,” Gogoi told reporters here.

Despite the government’s blatant misuse of power to suppress peoples’ voice, this movement against the Bill will not stop, he added.

“It is as if Hitler-Mussolini’s rule is going on here. The government is completely ignoring the people. Assamese people are simple, but not weak. No one can scare them. It is foolish to think the Assamese people can be controlled,” the senior Congress leader said.

“Hiren Gohain is not an anti-national. He always speaks for the country.  We strongly condemn the government for their such dictatorial attitude. I will go and meet him this evening and express my support.”

“If he is arrested, I will go and protest. In fact, entire Assam will burn then. Do you (government) want to pacify or burn the state?” Gogoi said.

In the morning, Bora and the APCC team met Gohain at his home and demanded the government to withdraw the case immediately.

“The (Sarbananda) Sonowal government should apologise to Gohain Sir for such a unacceptable case. We demand that the case be withdrawn at the earliest,” Bora told reporters.


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