New Delhi: The Assam-based RTI activist and peasant leader, Akhil Gogoi, who had been placed under preventive arrest Thursday, has now been booked under the amended UAPA (Unlawful Assembly Prevention Act) by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
A senior police officer from Guwahati confirmed the development to the ThePrint. A fresh case was registered against Gogoi by the NIA late Saturday evening.
He had been arrested Thursday from Assam’s Jorhat district, amid protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act in the state.
According to the police official, Gogoi, an advisor of the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), had staged a sit-in outside the Jorhat deputy commissioner’s office against the new controversial law. He had been reportedly evading arrest but was taken into custody after raids by the local police at a lawyer’s residence.
Gogoi could now be the first person to be tried as a terrorist under the new amended UAPA.
The amended UAPA Act empowers the central government to designate an individual as a “terrorist” if they are found to be committing, preparing for, promoting, or being involved in an act of terror.
The central government can also designate an individual as a terrorist through a notification in the official gazette, and add his name to the schedule supplemented to the UAPA Bill. The government is not required to give an individual an opportunity to be heard before such a designation.
According to a source in the agency, Gogoi has been booked for “waging a war against the nation”, conspiracy and rioting.
“The NIA has formally taken up the investigation in the case and has booked Gogoi for waging a war against the nation,” the source said. “The investigation in the case has been formally transferred to NIA, who will now look into the case.”
The arrest comes in the backdrop of NIA inspector general G.P. Singh being sent to Guwahati to “take charge” of the situation, in the wake of the spiralling protests against the citizenship act.
Singh, who has worked with the NIA for six years, and in several parts of the Northeast, including Assam, for over 18 years, was repatriated to his parent cadre with immediate effect Friday and has been posted as ADG Law and Order.
He comes in after the Guwahati police commissioner Deepak Kumar was sacked from his position, a government source told ThePrint.
A popular activist
Gogoi first made national headlines after he exposed a PDS (Public Distribution System) scam in 2005 in his home district of Golaghat.
He was also awarded the Shanmugam Manjunath Integrity Award for his fight against corruption in 2008.
He was awarded the national Right to Information (RTI) Award by Public Cause Research Foundation (PCRF) in 2010.
Gogoi had been arrested in 2011 for allegedly instigating violence after he led a mob in Dispur against alleged eviction around Guwahati hills. Protesters clashed with the police, leaving three dead and 43 injured of which 20 were policemen.
Since 2009, Gogoi has been leading a protest demanding shelving of dam projects in Northeastern region especially in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
His KMSS demands immediate halt to the ongoing construction of the 2,000 MW Subansiri Lower Hydroelectric Power Project of the NHPC at Gerukamukh along Assam-Arunachal Pradesh boundary as well as shelving of all the proposed 168 mega dam projects in Arunachal Pradesh.