It was a hot sunny noon in Delhi and Delhi Police were stationed in front of Assam Bhawan in Chanakyapuri along police vans and a water cannon. There were barricades. It seems the police came all prepared to surmount any sort of ‘uprising’ which they usually see on Jantar Mantar Road.
But this was Assam Bhawan where students, activists and free-thinkers gathered to voice their protest against the atrocious arrest of Akhil Gogoi from his house in Golaghat.
Most of you have seen Akhil Gogoi as an RTI activist who exposed a ₹1.25-crore scam in the Sampoorna Gram Rozgar Yojana as well as a ₹60 lakh scam in the Indira Awas Yojana. Akhil Gogoi had previously gave sleepless nights to Tarun Gogoi led government but his activism is now haunting Sarbananda Sonowal led BJP’s Government in Assam.
Why did the Government of Assam slap sedition with a sum total of 122 cases against him clubbed together under the National Security Act which includes charges like ‘giving protection to illegal foreigners in Kaziranga National Park’ and ‘having links with ULFA and the Maoists’?
From reliable sources, Akhil Gogoi had been protecting 132 species of sour fruits and leafy vegetables, 12 species of cane, 46 species of bamboo and a large variety of fishes in Kaziranga National Orchid and Bio-diversity Park. The allegations of ‘giving protection to illegal foreigners in Kaziranga National Park’ is yet to be proven.
Akhil Gogoi had been very vocal in voicing his protest against the government’s attempt to saffronize education in the name of Deen Dayal Upadhyay Adarsh Mahavidyalaya and government’s denial to follow the Assam Accord 1985. Sarbananda Sonowal was one of the pivotal student leaders from AASU in Assam Movement who went on to be MLA from AGP after Assam signed Assam Accord 1985.
Sarbananda Sonowal took the issue of Bangladeshi infiltration to the Supreme Court. By its judgement dated July 12 2005, the court struck down the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) Act, 1983, as unconstitutional and termed Bangladeshi infiltration an “external aggression” and directed that “the Bangladesh nationals who have illegally crossed the border and have trespassed into Assam or are living in other parts of the country have no legal right of any kind to remain in India and they are liable to be deported.
Today Akhil Gogoi is asking the same Sarbananda Sonowal led Government to follow the court orders as per the 2005 verdict of the case filed by the incumbent Chief Minister of Assam but only did he not expect charges of sedition and branded as an “anti-national” who is booked with 122 charges under NSA. Isn’t it hypocrisy? Maybe with the change of time and with the change of political ideology, the current priority is to create vote-bank in the name of religion and sacrifice the interest and well-being of the state. After all, party’s agenda is supreme.
A video of the same along with a transcript is linked below.
“Today we have assembled here for the protest may it be in support of Akhil Gogoi or for the democracy where we can have a critical opinion. We, on behalf of Assam Study Circle and a student hailing from Assam, extend our salutations to you. Today you must be knowing what’s happening in Assam. There’s nothing new to say. A person who spoke on the progress and well-being of the people of Assam, the same person is targeted by the government and the police of Assam are not only planning, rather systematically planning on how to put this ordinary person behind the bars.
Six months ago, he (Akhil Gogoi) was released from jail after staying there for two months and today he is again dragged into the same jail. Now they want to slap him with NSA so that he has to rot in jail for one long year. So, there’s is nothing new to describe how the situation is unfolding in the state. I don’t know how to speak Hindi properly but to all those people assembled here, I want to say few words about Akhil Gogoi. The speakers who spoke before me tried their best t0 give a picture of who is Akhil Gogoi; but I, being an Assamese, what do I think about Akhil Gogoi?
In the year 2005, he started an organisation whose name was Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti. It was just a small organization with just 15-20 people. But today, go to any villages of Assam, you will find representatives of KMSS there. Why do those people support Akhil Gogoi? Today the Government of India calls him an ‘anti-national’. The government of Assam to labels him as ‘anti-national’. Why do the people of Assam support such an ‘anti-national’ person? this we have to understand and introspect.
A couple of months back, the Assam Government said that they will open Government colleges. Great news. It’s really great that Assam will have more Government colleges. But in whose name those colleges will be named? Deen Dayal Upadhyay. Now the people of Assam will definitely ask who is this Deen Dayal Upadhyay? We never heard about Deen Dayal Upadhyay.
Assam had 855 martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the struggle of Assam Accord. They gave their lives for Assam, where is their name? Where is their name! Assam has Kanaklata. Assam has Laxminath Bezbarooah. Assam has Dr Bhupen Hazarika. Where is their name? We will shout. We have the right to shout. Why won’t we shout? Who is this Deen Dayal Upadhyay? Akhil Gogoi is shouting for this. Akhil Gogoi asks whether there is no such persons from Assam that the colleges built in Assam are named after Deen Dayal Upadhyay. We must question. This is a subject that needs to be questioned.
You too have brains so just think, shouldn’t we question if you are building a college in Uttar Pradesh or Bihar in the name of a person whom the people of Uttar Pradesh or Bihar do not know, won’t they question? Then shouldn’t we shout and ask this question? This is the first case. Secondly, there was a massive movement in Assam which went on for 5 years, we call it the Assam Movement. 855 persons like me died in it. They lost their lives. After that, there was an accord named Assam Accord 1985. In that accord, it’s clearly mentioned that anyone who came to Assam before 31st March 1971 is a citizen of Assam, a citizen of India and we consider them to be our brothers. But those who came after 1971 are illegal immigrants which a threat to Assam’s indigenous communities. If you want the well-being of Assam, then you have to throw out these illegal immigrants.
This is the demand by all the people of Assam. The biggest liar of the BJP Government, Narendra Modi, when he went to Assam to rally for state elections clearly stated that after 15th may, all the illegal immigrants will have to leave Assam. He said it clearly. Don’t believe me? Watch the video footage from his archives. What the same person is doing now, he is dividing those illegal immigrants into two categories – Hindu and Muslim. We never saw people through the colour of religion. For us, an illegal immigrant is an illegal immigrant. We don’t have any relation with any religion because we are Hindu and also Muslim.
We don’t have strict religious attachments. Assam does not have the plague of caste-ism as we see in rest of India. But shouldn’t we speak out on this subject? Don’t divide the illegal immigrants in the name of Hindu or Muslim. An illegal immigrant is illegal who came from Bangladesh and not a Hindu or a Muslim. Shouldn’t we speak on it? Is it wrong to speak about it? If I say speak about the same and I am labelled as ‘anti-national’, then you think what is happening in India is right or wrong. Akhil Gogoi is continuously opposing this hypocrisy of the Government. He is saying that these illegal immigrants are illegal and they must be removed so don’t do communal politics in their name.
Assam never witnessed communal politics and we won’t let it happen.What’re the consequences? He was not even allowed to wear his clothes. When police came to arrest him, check the video footage, they did not even allow him to wear clothes. It seems as if a mob of 10-11 people came in and kidnapped him from his house. If the media-persons would not have reached on time, then people say, they (police) might have sent him to an isolated place and can even get him assassinated. No one would have known about it. Is this democracy? Won’t we question if this is a democracy or not? If a person, he can be criminal, how can you abduct him like this? getting inside the house late night, no arrest warrant and not even allowing him to wear his clothes; shouldn’t we speak on this? Those who speak out, Government of Assam labels as an ‘anti-national’ just like they did with Akhil Gogoi. Good. Let them label.
How many people can this Government tag in the name of ‘anti-national’? This will come in court after 10 days. Till then, enjoy. They knew the court will remain closed for 10 days for Durga Puja holidays. If you can do anything with Akhil Gogoi in these 10 days. do it. After that, what you will do? It has not been one year since BJP came to power in Assam. These issues are the issues of every citizen of Assam. Who does not have 5000 rupees in a bank account? Poor people like us do not have 5000 rupees. The government charges 100 rupees from us every month. So, won’t we complain? Every month, we take 100 rupees from our accounts because we don’t have a balance of 5000 rupees. If debates don’t happen on this issue, then on what issues should we have a debate upon? Here we have Delhi Police. I just want to ask you, people, go home and Google.
If you can enrol your students in the top 10 private colleges in Delhi, then send me behind the bars. You can not because you know what ‘s the fees of a kindergarten? It goes up to 2-3 lakhs rupees. What’s your salary? 50,000 rupees. How will you enrol your kids? Government and schools are cheating people, won’t you raise your voice? People of Assam speak straight and clear and so do I. And now it’s high time that Akhil Gogoi must be released unconditionally.”
P.s. Currently, AFSPA is imposed in the state of Assam. It is the same AFSPA which haunts in the valleys of Kashmir and Manipur. Moreover, Assam has a government Primary School named after Sonia Gandhi in Lakhimpur. This shows the level of appeasement politics the politicians were up to. Deen Dayal Upadhyay is just a new entrant in this list.