Jailed anti-citizenship amendment act (CAA) activist Akhil Gogoi, who was elected as the MLA from Assam's Sibsagar seat last month, today got a partial relief as he was cleared in one of the two cases against him linked to the protests against the controversial law.
A National Investigation Agency court in Guwahati cleared him in the case over the violent protests.
Mr Gogoi has been jailed since December 2019 over various cases.
This morning, the NIA court discharged him of all the charges under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in the case filed at Chabua police station.
In April, he was acquitted in this case, but the central agency had appealed again.
The case was filed after Mr Gogoi was accused of leading a crowd of about 600 people, which had led to "economic blockade", "throwing of stones" and murder of a "police personnel on duty."
He will, however, have to remain in judicial custody as another case, also taken over by the NIA, is still pending.
During the CAA-protests, Mr Gogoi had led a group of over 61 organisations to protest against the act. Several cases were filed against him across across Assam (Sibsagar, Dibrugarh, Gaurisagar, Teok, Jorhat) after violent demonstrations.
Of these, two cases (in Chandmari and Chabua) were taken over by the NIA.
In the Chandmari case that is pending against him, Mr Gogoi has been charged under various charges including Sections 120B, 124A, 153B IPC and Sections 18 and 39 of the UAPA.
Mr Gogoi's counsel Rahul Sensua said, "The officer in charge of the police station was injured when some people threw stones. Akhil Gogoi was there. A case was filed for this and NIA was brought in and he was chargesheeted. Today, the court has acquitted him of all charges in this case."
Mr Gogoi's lawyer and supporters of Raijor Dal which he leads see the verdict as a moral victory.
Mitul Deka, working president of the party, alleged that Akhil Gogoi has targeted politically and efforts are being made to keep him jailed. "But today this judgment has given us hope. It is our party's moral victory," he said.
Human rights lawyer Santanu Borthakur said the case also show how UAPA, which was brought to be used against terrorism, is "being used to criminalise dissent".