File Photo: Akhil Gogoi being taken to a court

Students from various universities and colleges of Assam and outside the state have written to Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal requesting him to release jailed anti-CAA activists including Akhil Gogoi and provide them better treatment.

Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) leader Akhil Gogoi and some of his close aides were put behind the bars under UA(P) Act by the NIA. They tested positive for COVID-19 and were undergoing treatment.

The demand for their release has been on the rise across the state and outside. All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and many individuals appealed to the government for their release.

In the latter, the students termed Gogoi’s case as ‘unjustified long-term imprisonment’.

“At a time when the entire globe faces tremendous challenges of a pandemic situation, we, the student community of Assam demand the provision for proper treatment to the imprisoned Akhil Gogoi, Dhaijya Konwar, Bitu Sonwal and Manas Konwar and we demand their release without further delay,” said a statement issued by the students who have written to the CM.

Akhil Gogoi has been under detention since December 16, 2019, in connection with an NIA case (13/2019) under Sections 120B, 253A, 153B of the IPC and Sections 18 and 39 of the UA(P) Act, 1967.

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Bittu Sonowal, Dhaijya Konwar and Manas Konwar were arrested early this year under various charges of UA(P) Act by the NIA.

“…it is deplorable how under the pretext of several flimsy allegations one following the other, the investigating agency has managed to extend their period of incarceration for more than six months now. It is a matter of great concern to the people of Assam that a number of students, including Devangana Kalita, who led the anti-CAA protest in New Delhi, have faced the same predicament,” the statement further said.

The students have also alleged “apparent indifference of Assam government to provide adequate healthcare to the inmates including Akhil Gogoi”, who has been of poor health for a while now and recently tested positive for COVID-19 along with his KMSS associates.

“It is not only unjust but also a clear violation of the rights conferred by the constitution. It must be noted that the UN has also called for the release of political prisoners citing the dire situation in all the countries,” it said.

Students from Cotton University, Tezpur University, Gauhati University, Dibrugarh University, Assam University, IIT Guwahati, NIT Silchar, Gauhati Medical College, National School of Drama, JB College, Arya Vidyapeeth College, North Lakhimpur College, DKD College, and Darrang College, among others, have signed the letter.

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Many students studying in Delhi University, Jawaharlal Nehru University and abroad have also extended solidarity to the cause.

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