Sandeep Pandey during an anti-CAA protest Credit: Twitter

Guwahati: Social activist and Ramon Magsaysay awardee Sandeep Pandey on Wednesday raised questions on the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests carried out by All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) in Assam in December last year.

Addressing a press conference in Guwahati after meeting Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) leader Akhil Gogoi who is in judicial custody at the moment, Pandey said that the anti-CAA protests conducted by AASU were held in field instead of the roads and that too till just 5 pm. He questioned: “Is this a government agitation that will take place from 10 am to 5 pm?”

Talking about the peasant leader, Pandey said that this is his third time in Guwahati for meeting Gogoi. First was when he was jailed by former Tarun Gogoi government claiming him to be a Maoist. Then the BJP government jailed the KMSS leader under National Security Act, and now.

He questioned that does a Maoist use RTI for unearthing discrepancies in MNREGA like Akhil Gogoi did, or for those who voice farmers’ issue?

He said that Gogoi is not Maoist, but a social activist, who participates in national level agitations like India Against Corruption. He works for the welfare of the people of Assam.

Speaking on why Gogoi is being targeted, Pandey said, “His organisation has become very strong here, and he became a political challenge for the current state government and the one before it.”

Reckoning his visit to Assam in December 2018, he said, the strongest agitators against CAB were Akhil Gogoi and the 70 other organisation onboard with him.

AGP was saying that it is opposing CAB, but not openly, and now AASU, is opposing it. But in 2018, AASU never protested against CAB or CAA with this much strength as Akhil Gogoi did, claimed Pandey.

He said, “It is nothing of surprise that on December 10, 11 and 12 there is large scale demonstration and on 12th Gogoi goes to jail, after which, AASU takes the leadership of the protest. We can see a conspiracy that by sending Gogoi to jail, such an agitation is taking place which says that protests should take place in fields, not on roads.”

Speaking on the talks of an alternative political front in Assam by AASU and the artist community, Pandey said that people are saying it cannot come up without the support of KMSS. “For those who are really against CAA, they should come together,” he added.

He also highlighted that KMSS does not get permission for demonstrating anywhere, but AASU gets permissions. He claimed, “It is convenient for the government that its opponent [AASU] is weak, not as strong as Akhil Gogoi.”

“I am saying that if AASU is really against CAA then it will have to protest strongly,” Pandey said, also questioning as to where was AASU during 2019 elections when KMSS was protesting against BJP?

Concluding, he said, it is not AASU but the government in power which is hatching this plot.

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