Akhil branded Maoist deliberately, says Medha Patkar

Narmada Bachao Andolan leader had campaigned for the jailed president of Raijor Dal in eastern Assam

Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar on Thursday said people who orchestrate mob lynching have been labelling Raijor Dal president Akhil Gogoi as a terrorist of the Maoist kind to keep him behind bars.

This was because the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government in Assam was scared of him, she told journalists in Guwahati after campaigning for the jailed Raijor Dal chief in eastern Assam’s Sibsagar Assembly constituency with his 84-year-old mother Priyada Gogoi.

“Had Akhil Gogoi been a Maoist, he would have engaged in guerrilla warfare with the State. But he chose a democratic way to raise his voice against the government. The government is so scared of his ways that it has kept him in jail,” Ms. Patkar said.

The activist said Mr. Gogoi was locked away because of his opposition to a mega hydropower project and the installation of toll gates on highways. The government also took advantage of the COVID-19 lockdown to further its anti-people projects, she said.

Insisting that Mr. Gogoi should be the next face in the political arena of Assam, Ms. Patkar accused the State government of polarising the people between Hindus and Muslims.

She also slammed Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma for scheming against Mr. Gogoi so that the BJP’s corporate friends could take over the natural resources of the State. She named industrialists Gautam Adani and Mukesh Ambani as potential beneficiaries.

“They call us andolanjeevis (professional agitators) if we talk about their flaws. I am thankful to [Prime Minister] Modi-ji for giving such a beautiful designation. But they also do andolan in the name of mandir-masjid (temple-mosque). Why mock us when you do the same?” Ms. Patkar asked.

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