India
29.09.17
Urgent Interventions

Arbitrary arrest and judicial harassment of land rights activist Mr. Akhil Gogoi

IND 005 / 0917 / OBS 106

Arbitrary detention /

Judicial harassment

India

September 29, 2017

The Observatory for the Protection of Human RightsDefenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH,requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in India.

Brief description of the information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sourcesabout the arbitrary arrest and judicial harassment of land rights activist Mr. Akhil Gogoi,President of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), a peasant rightsorganisation based in Assam[1].

According tothe information received, on the evening of September 13, 2017, Mr. Akhil Gogoi was arrested at the office of KMSS in Golaghat, Assam State, by Dibrugarhpolice. He was falsely charged with “sedition” (Section 124 (A) of the IndianPenal Code), “criminal conspiracy” (Section 120-B), “waging or attempting towage war against the Government of India” (Section 121), “abetment of anoffence” (Section 109), “causing communal disharmony” (section 153) and “hatespeech” (Section 153-A).

Mr. Akhil Gogoi’s arrest took place the day after he addressed a public audience in Moran, Dibrugarh,during which he criticised various policy decisions of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) State Government in Assam. Theseincluded infringing the rights of indigenous people of Assam, including thenon-implementation of the 1985 Assam Accord; and the absence of constitutionalsafeguards to protect the rights of indigenous people of Assam. After hisspeech, the police lodged a First Information Report (FIR) against Mr. Gogoi atMoran police station, accusing him of “fuelling anti-national activities” (casenumber 180/17)[2]. Thiscomplaint formed the basis for Mr. Gogoi’s arrest by Dibrugarh police onSeptember 13, 2017.

Mr. Akhil Gogoi’s arrest also came in the wake of the mass rallies held byKMSS in past few weeks, protesting against the mishandling by the BJP StateGovernment of the agrarian farm crisis following a very poor summer harvest.

On September 18, 2017, Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate Imdad Ahmedremanded Mr. Akhil Gogoi in judicial custody until September 25, 2017.

On September 25, 2017, Mr. Akhil Gogoi was brought before DibrugarhCourt and was arrested under the National Security Act in connection with atleast 15 cases pending before various courts, including a case pending againsthim in Kaziranga[3]. Duringthe court hearing, Mr. Akhil Gogoiwas humiliated and physically mistreated. TheCourt ultimately rejected his bail application.

As of the publication of this UrgentAppeal, Mr. AkhilGogoi remained detained in Dibrugarhjail, although his transfer to Nagaon jail was announced on September 25,2017. Moreover, he is kept in solitary confinement and he has been deniedaccess to a lawyer and to his relatives, which would request the permissionfrom the District Commissioner.

The next hearing in his case is scheduledto take place on October 10, 2017.

TheObservatory strongly condemns the arbitrary arrest of Mr. Akhil Gogoi, which only aims at punishing himfor his legitimate human rights activities, and calls on the Indian authoritiesto immediately and unconditionally release him.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in India,urging them to:

i.Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity ofMr. Akhil Gogoi and of all humanrights defenders in India;

ii. ReleaseMr. Akhil Gogoi immediatelyand unconditionally as his detention is arbitrary since it only seems to aim atpunishing him for his human rights activities;

iii. Guarantee the access of Mr. Mr.Akhil Gogoi to his family members and to a lawyer ofhis own or his family’s choosing;

iv. Put an end to all acts of harassment- including at the judicial level - against Mr. Akhil Gogoi and all human rights defenders in India,and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out theirlegitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;

v.Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders,adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, inparticular with Articles 1 and 12.2;

vi.Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedomsin accordance with international human rights standards and internationalinstruments ratified by India.

Addresses:

· Mr.Shri Narendra Damodardas Modi, Prime Minister of India, Fax: + 91 11 2301 6857.E-mail: pmosb@pmo.nic.in / manmo@sansad.in

· Mr.Raj Nath Singh, Union Minister of Home Affairs of India, Fax: +91 11 2309 2979.Email: dirfcra-mha@gov.in

· Mr. Rajiv Gauba, Secretary, Ministryof Home Affairs of India, Email: hshso@nic.in

· Justice Dipak Misra,Chief Justice of India, Supreme Court, of India, Fax: +91 11 233 83792, Email: supremecourt@nic.in

· JusticeShri H.L. Dattu, Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commissionof India, Fax +91 11 2465 1329. Email: chairnhrc@nic.in

· Mr.Srinivasa Kammath, Focal Pointon Human Rights Defenders, National Human Rights Commission of India, Email: hrd-nhrc@nic.in

· H.E.Mr. Rajiv Kumar Chander, Ambassador,Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Fax:+41 22 906 86 96, Email: mission.india@ties.itu.int

· H.E.Mr. Manjeev Singh Puri, Embassy of India to the European Union, Belgium andLuxembourg in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 2 6489638 / +32 2 6451869

Please also write to the diplomaticmission or embassy of India located in your country.

***

Geneva-Paris, September 29, 2017

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting thecode of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of HumanRights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by the WorldOrganisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of this programmeis to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rightsdefenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights DefendersMechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contactthe Observatory, call the emergency line:

E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org

Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

Tel and fax FIDH: + 33 (0) 143 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

[1] Founded by Mr. Akhil Gogoi in 2005, KMSS works notablyin favour of land rights and since 2009 has also been leading a statewide movement against construction of big damsin the ecologically sensitive regions of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.

[2]The police accuse Mr. Gogoi ofallegedly having said at the public meeting that an armed struggle would have tobe adopted if the rights of the indigenous people were infringed upon by theBJP-led Government in Assam.

[3] On October 2, 2016, Mr. Gogoi was arrestedfor protesting against the eviction of Muslim immigrants from forestland nearKaziranga National Park. He was released from Golaghat jail only on December19, 2016 after the Guwahati High Court granted himbail on December 16. Thecase has been pending since then.

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