Peasant leader Akhil Gogoi was on Thursday granted bail by the Gauhati High Court in three cases lodged by the Assam Police in connection with the violent anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protests in December last year.
However, he will remain in jail for the cases being probed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
Hearing the bail applications in the three cases registered at Chabua police station in Dibrugarh district, Justice Manash Ranjan Pathak granted bail to the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) leader.
Gogoi's advocate Santanu Borthakur said: "Now he has got bail in all cases, except the two NIA cases. The hearing in one of these two cases will start in the next few days. We hope the court will grant bail to him."
The three cases, for which Gogoi was arrested on May 29, while he was already in jail, were related to burning of a post office, a circle office and a branch of the United Bank of India in Chabua during violent protests against the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
NIA is investigating two cases, which were initially registered at Chandmari and Chabua police stations, related to the alleged role of Gogoi in the violent protests.
Gogoi, the adviser of KMSS, tested positive for COVID-19 inside Guwahati Central Jail on July 11 and is being treated at Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) at present.
Gogoi was arrested on December 12 last year from Jorhat as a "preventive measure" in view of the deteriorating law and order situation in the state and his three colleagues were taken into custody the next day.
The four leaders were later arrested in a number of old cases registered across different police stations in Assam. They have got bail in most of these cases.
The special NIA court had granted bail to Gogoi on March 17 in the Chandmari police station case and subsequently to others after the investigating agency failed to file a charge sheet within the specified period of 90 days. The Gauhati High Court later stayed the bail.
On May 29, the NIA filed the charge sheet against Gogoi and three of his colleagues for sedition and terror activities.
KMSS leader Bittu Sonowal, who was arrested by NIA along with Gogoi, was granted bail by a special NIA court on Wednesday. On Monday, another KMSS leader, Manash Konwar was granted bail by the special NIA court and was released from jail on Tuesday.
On Saturday, July 11, Gogoi, who was arrested by the NIA for his alleged role in violent protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in 2019, had tested positive for the novel coronavirus inside the Guwahati Central Jail, an official had said. A total of 55 inmates, including Gogoi, have tested positive for COVID-19 inside the jail, forcing authorities to issue orders to take samples of all the 1,069 prisoners.
Earlier, a letter written by an inmate of Guwahati Central Jail said that at least 95% of its inmates have been infected by COVID-19. The letter is said to have been dropped by a COVID-19 positive inmate from a vehicle used to transport prisoners, in front of the main gate of the jail.
On July 9, two of the other jailed KMSS (Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti) leaders, Bittu Sonowal and Dhaijya Konwar, had tested positive for COVID-19 in Guwahati Central Jail.
KMSS leader Gogoi, who has been imprisoned for over 200 days, was first tested for COVID-19 following an NIA court directing the jail authorities to conduct tests on him and his two associates, Bittu Sonowal and Dhaijjya Konwar on July 7. Even though Sonowal and Konwar tested positive, there were uncertainties around Gogoi’s condition as his first test was negative. Two more tests were conducted and the last antigen sample was positive, Inspector General (Prisons) Dasarath Das had told the media on Saturday.
In the last week of June, over 1,200 inmates including Sonowal, Konwar and Gogoi had gone on a hunger strike for two days, demanding better healthcare facilities for the inmates.
It has been reported that the prisoners resorted to the hunger strike after several letters to the jail authorities demanding better facilities, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, remained unanswered. The prisoners also demanded that visitors, especially lawyers, be allowed to meet the prisoners, following COVID-19 guidelines.
Notably, the jail premises had been sealed last month, too, after an inmate had tested positive for COVID-19. "In view of the detection of a COVID-19 positive patient at Central Jail in Guwahati city, in the interest of maintenance of public hygiene and to prevent further spread of COVID-19 virus in the said area, the Central Jail area is declared as a Containment Zone,” the order dated June 5 issued by the Kamrup Metropolitan Deputy Commissioner Biswajit Pegu had said, according to PTI.
With inputs from PTI