Guwahati, May 30: A member of the Assam-based Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), led by jailed rights activist Akhil Gogoi, has been arrested for "offensive posts" against Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
Nipom Chutia is the third person to be arrested in the state for "maligning the image" of Chief Minister Sarma. He was arrested from Gogamukh in Dhemaji district late Saturday for his Facebook posts that raked up controversies about Sarma's past. The posts rakes up police cases against Sarma for extortion on behalf of the separatist ULFA and the murder of Congress trade unionist Manabendra Sarma, in which the now Chief Minister was prime accused.
Sarma says he was cleared by the court on both cases and the Facebook posts were a "deliberate attempt" to malign him. The KMSS is led by Gogoi who won this year's Assembly elections despite contesting from jail , where he is lodged on charges of triggering "violent agitations" against the BJP-piloted Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
The KMSS has also spearheaded an agitation against big dams in the Arunachal Pradesh-Assam region on grounds this is a seismic hotbed and a strong earthquake like the 1897 or 1950 in Assam can cause what Gogoi describes as a "land tsunami". Dhemaji, Assam's northernmost district bordering Arunachal Pradesh, has been the hotbed of the anti-dam agitation, which the state's BJP government has sought to crush on grounds it was "anti-development".
Sarma, initially with All Assam Students Union (AASU), joined the Congress during the tenure of late Chief Minister Hiteswar Saikia and rose to become number two in late Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi's cabinet. Then before the 2016 state Assembly polls, he switched to the saffron camp. The Congress alleged that the CBI investigating the Sarada chit fund scam, in which Sarma's name figured like the Louis Berger scandal, allegedly went easy on him.
Two journalists were arrested and three others detained in February for an alleged attempt to "malign with salacious intent" Sarma after they shared a photo of him along with his daughter. The Chief Minister's wife had filed a complaint with the Dispur police station under the POCSO Act, following which the Guwahati City Police began probing the case. Taufiquddin Ahmad, the Editor-in-Chief of local news website 'Pratibimba Live', and its News Editor Iqbal were arrested for investigation into the "conspiracy", while three others were detained, Guwahati City Police Commissioner Munna Prasad Gupta has said.
The three employees who were detained were being interrogated to ascertain their involvement in the case, he said. The Minister told reporters here that this was a clear case of political conspiracy but to "stoop so low and not spare even my minor daughter, reflects a very low mentality". "I have been attacked on all fronts by my opponents but when they failed to create any impact, they have adopted a different strategy to malign my character and I have been noticing this recently," Sarma said. He said that the photograph posted with a malafide intent was disturbing and "we could not sleep the whole night".
Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order), G.P. Singh said that the police will take strong action against all such attempts under stringent provisions of the POCSO Act, he said. They were arrested on the basis of a case registered with the Dispur police station under IPC Section 509 (intending to insult the modesty of any woman), and Sections 14 and 21 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, he said. "Action shall be taken against all persons irrespective of their place of residence who use any of the social media platforms to maliciously use such platforms for furthering this conspiracy," Singh added.
The website had shared a photo of the minister hugging his daughter, following which it went viral on social media.