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Assam Government Using 'Lockdown' to Silence Anti-CAA Voices?

Guwahati, April 30, 2020:

Upamanyu Hazarika, a senior advocate from Assam, has alleged that the ruling Government is illegally crackdown on those who “criticize the Government” by instituting false cases or kidnapping citizens without recourse to law.
To illustrate his point, Hazarika has pointed to two cases — Pankaj Saikia, a sales manager of Mahindra, and Santhosh Hojai, a resident of Harangajao in Dima Hasao — who both have reportedly become victims during the lockdown period.
Pankaj Saikia was arrested by the army around 10 pm on March 22 when he was on his way from the Assam Medical college in Dibrugarh where his father was being treated for cancer.
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No intimation was given to his family for two days, and on April 23, he was handed over to Khowang Police Station and on 24 March he was produced before a Magistrate. Hazarika, who has brought this issue to light, says this this is “clearly in breach of the constitutional requirement of being produced before a magistrate within 24 hours of arrest.”
He was ultimately granted bail by the district judge of Dibrugarh on April 22.
He has been accused of waging war against the State on Section 121 of IPC when all that he has done is being vocal in the social media against the present Government and its leader, particularly on CAA, said Hazarika.
“The learned Judge in the bail order observed that except for Facebook posts, which are critical of the Government, no evidence has been furnished. There are other cases of those involved in the CAA agitation who have been directed to appear in police stations”, says Hazarika.
Similarly, Santosh Hojai, a businessman from Dima Hasao, was reportedly abducted on April 24 from his residence in Harangajao. His wife who went to lodge a complaint to the police station was turned away. “Like Saikia, Hojai was also a vocal opponent of the Government, so there are apprehensions that perhaps his role in these agitations could be the cause behind his abduction”, Hazarika told Inside Northeast today.
He has not returned till date, and two petitions have been filed before the Assam State Human Rights Commission and the Assam Public Grievances Commission seeking an investigation and production Santosh Hojai.

Hojai’s wife’s note to a CSO urging “help”

Hazarika has said that this is a “method” of shutting down all voices of dissent. “It is clear that the present Government is using the lockdown as an opportunity to come down heavily on dissenters and those who are critical the Government in clear violation of their fundamental rights”, he said.
“With less then a year to go of the tenure of this Government, it is clear that the Chief Minister Sonowal is resorting to the same methods of illegal confinement and abduction et cetera adopted by Prafulla Mahanta in his last term as Chief Minister”, Hazarika further alleged.
It may be recalled that in the days after the CAA’s passage in the Rajya Sabha, a revolution on Assam streets turned bloody, with 5 killed during the intense agitation.
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