In a chargesheet filed against a group of activists for their alleged role in violence during protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in Assam last December, the NIA has remarked that one of them had used phrases such as “Comrade” and “Lal Salam” on Facebook.
“Bittu Sonowal had referred to some friends and they addressed him as ‘comrade’ and used words ‘Lal Salam’. One of his Facebook posts is of a picture of Lenin with the words, ‘The Capitalists will sell us the rope with with which we will hang them’,” the NIA’s 40-page chargesheet, filed on May 29, states. The Indian Express has read a copy of the chargesheet.
Sonowal is a close aide of prominent activist Akhil Gogoi, who leads the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), one of the outfits instrumental in organising the protests against the CAA in Assam in December 2019.
Gogoi and Sonowal, along with Dhairjya Konwar and Manas Konwar, were booked by NIA on charges of sedition and under provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for allegedly being overground workers of the banned CPI (Maoist) soon after the protests broke out.
The KMSS has called these false allegations. The outfit’s president, Bhasco De Saikia, told The Indian Express, “The chargesheet is filled with allegations without any concrete evidence. After investigating for six months, the NIA has not been able to present any proof.”
Santanu Borthakur, a lawyer representing the accused, said, “In an isolated manner, the remark may not mean much. But if connected with other materials such as ‘participating in meeting of Maoists’ and ‘recovery of Maoist literature’, etc, then this remark can have significance… Without much evidence against the four accused, NIA has alleged that they are linked with the CPI (Maoist).”
The FIR accuses Gogoi and others of being involved in “terrorist activities” and using the CAA protests to allegedly promote enmity between groups.
In a raid in December, NIA officials had reported seizure of a few books on communism, Marxism and socialism, and titles related to Mao Zedong and Vladimir Lenin, from the KMSS office. A tab recovered from the accused containing pictures and videos, including that of one speech, has been sent to CFSL in Chandigarh.
The chargesheet states that a DVD containing “legally intercepted voice calls” and transcripts allegedly belonging Gogoi, Dhairjya Konwar and Sonowal has also been sent to CFSL. It “contains incriminating conversations”, according to the probe agency.
According to the chargesheet, the four accused, along with several others, held meetings in November and December 2019 and “conspired to commit terrorist act, by using inflammable substances, to strike terror in section of people, by causing widespread blockade in Assam, thereby paralysing the government machinery, causing economic blockade and disruption of services essential for life of community”.
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