GUWAHATI, Jan 10 - “I don’t know the details of the case lodged against me at the Latasil Police Station, but I only came to know that it is over the speech I had delivered at the public meeting held on January 7. At that meeting I had said that if all democratic ways fail and all political parties and organisations of India continue to ignore the interests of Assamese people for a long time, then only the demand for independence for Assam may come,” said Dr Hiren Gohain against whom a suo motu case was lodged by police at the Latasil Police Station this morning. Senior journalist Manjit Mahanta and KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi also have been named in the case.
The case was lodged over the speeches of Dr Gohain, Mahanta and Gogoi delivered at a public meeting held as part of the ‘Condemnation Day’ on January 7 under the joint aegis of various organisations and distinguished personalities of Assam in protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.
In his January 7 speech Dr Hiren Gohain had said, “It is a fight to save the secular character of the great Indian democracy. We will have to continue with this movement under any circumstances. But, if no one hears us and responds to our demand, then we will have to raise the demand for an independent Assam.”
Akhil Gogoi, who had delivered his speech before Dr Gohain at the meeting, had said, “Today is a black day in the history of Assam. The ruling BJP did not respond to the movement of the Assamese people even after a nude protest in the national capital. So it is time to take the movement to the grassroots. Maybe in the coming days we will have to raise the demand for an independent Assam if such a situation persists.”
Meanwhile, reacting to the police case here this evening, Manjit Mahanta, who was also a convener of the meeting, said, “The sedition case lodged at the Latasil Police Station today is a baseless charge. Our fight is to save the secular character of the country and it will continue.”
Mahanta clarified that they had not demanded independence for Assam at the meeting. “We did not provoke anyone to join militancy and start an armed movement against the nation; we only said that if such a situation persists for a long time, then one day the demand for independence may come,” Mahanta asserted.
He alleged that the ruling BJP has been conspiring to scuttle the movement of the Assamese people against the Bill which, he said, would make the situation in Assam more critical in the coming days.
Reacting to the case, senior journalist Haidor Hussain said, “The demand for an independent Assam had been raised by many persons in the past and among them some were even elected to Dispur and Delhi. But now the ruling BJP tries to start a fight between Assamese and Bengali people through such attempts.”
Hussain also urged Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal to make his stand on the Bill clear.
Senior advocate Shantanu Borthakur said the case has been lodged without proper substantial evidence and it is against the Supreme Court verdict on the definition of ‘sedition’.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) in a statement said the case is based on false charges brought by the police and demanded its immediate withdrawal.
Meanwhile, many followers and well-wishers of Dr Gohain gathered in front of his residence at Chandmari here this evening and slammed the ruling BJP and police.
Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition Debabrata Saikia today condemned the Assam Police and the State government for lodging the sedition case against the three persons.