Assam saw 251 sedition cases since BJP's ascension

Assam saw 251 sedition cases since BJP's ascension

Prime Minister Narendra Modi being felicitated by Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal during the inauguration of Advantage Assam programme at Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, in Guwahati on Saturday. (PTI File Photo)

A total of 251 sedition cases has been registered in Assam since May 2016, when the BJP-led coalition government came to power in the state.

This included a sedition case against social scientist Hiren Gohain, peasants' rights leader Akhil Gogoi and journalist Manjit Mahanta, who has been leading an agitation against the NDA's Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. The bill seeks to offer citizenship to non-Muslim "persecuted" migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, after a stay of six years but the indigenous people fear that this would reduce them into minorities.

Most of the sedition cases, however, are against members and leaders of various militant groups, for carrying out subversive activities against the state.

This was informed in a written reply by Assam parliamentary affairs minister Chandra Mohan Patowary on Monday during the ongoing session of the state Assembly. The leader of the Congress legislature party, Debabrat Saikia had sought details of sedition cases registered in the state since May 2016, when the BJP came to power.

Maximum sedition cases were registered in Korajhar district in eastern Assam, with 80 cases reported during the period. Most of these cases were registered against members of militant groups such as the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (S), Kamtapur Liberation Organisation and National Santhal Liberation Army. Chirang district reported 43 cases followed by Tinsukia (40), Cachar (19) and Golaghat (18). Cases were also registered against militant groups Ulfa (Independent), NSCN-IM and others.

Assam erupted in protest on January 10 when the state police slapped sedition charges against Gohain, Gogoi and Mahanta for allegedly stoking "separatism" while protesting the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. Many called it the BJP government's attempt to silence dissenting voices as they had appealed to the people to vote against the BJP in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. The three were, however, granted interim bail by Gauhati high court.