The Gauhati High Court on Friday granted bail to senior journalist Manjit Mahanta and interim relief to Assamese litterateur Hiren Gohain and KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi in a sedition case filed by Assam Police for their alleged remarks against the citizenship bill.
Justice H K Sarma granted interim bail to Gohain and Gogoi, RTI activist and chief of the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), against a surety of Rs 5,000 each.
The Judge also directed police to file the case diary by January 22.
Mahanta was granted absolute bail as there is no specific allegation against him in the FIR.
Police had filed a suo motu case under Indian Penal Code sections, including 121 (waging or attempting to wage war, or abetting waging of war, against government), 123 (concealing with intent to facilitate design to wage war) and 124(A) (sedition), at the Latasil police station Guwahati.
The case was filed on the basis of comments made by the three during a meeting on January 7 to protest against the Citizenship Amendment Bill.
The bill, passed by the Lok Sabha on January 8, seeks to grant Indian citizenship to non-Muslims who fled religious persecution in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and entered India before December 31, 2014.
The filing of the sedition case against the three has evoked widespread condemnation of the BJP government by political parties and social organisations.
The Congress, AIUDF, AGP along with the KMSS and AASU and even the banned ULFA have protested against the charges of sedition on Gohain, Gogoi and Mahanta and demanded that it should be immediately withdrawn.
Assam Congress president Ripun Bora Friday visited Gohain and expressed the party's solidarity with him.
Former chief minister Tarun Gogoi told reporters that the case against Gohain, Gogoi and Mahanta is a "blatant misuse of power" by the BJP government in the state.
"The entire episode reflects Hitler and Mussolini type rule in the state and misuse of power by the BJP. The government cannot stop spontaneous protests by such high-handed measures. The protests will continue," he said.
One person at Jorhat also held a strip protest against the sedition charge slapped on Gohain on Friday.
Gohain Thursday said he had spoken thrice at the January 7 meeting and on all occasions had "highlighted that citizenship should be on the basis of secular principles, and the rightful demand of the Assamese people on the Citizenship Amendment Bill must be achieved by democratic means".
"The gist of my speech was that if all democratic struggle by different parties and organisations in the country fail to protect the interest and identity of the Assamese
within the framework of the Constitution, the people will have no choice but to demand an independent Assam," the octogenarian intellectual said.