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    “Freedom of Speech”? Artists held for mural on Akhil Gogoi

    Gauhati high court on Thursday has fixed December 8 as the next date of hearing on Akhil Gogoi’s bail plea

    GUWAHATI: Raising a debate on ‘freedom of speech’ once again in the country, Assam Police on Thursday detained a group of artists for painting a mural of peasant leader Akhil Gogoi in city’s Basistha area.

    The Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) leader Gogoi has been behind the bars for almost a year now. He was arrested on charges of instigating violence during the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in the state.

    Since Wednesday, this bunch of artist belonging to a group called ‘Anga Art Collective’ were busy making the mural allegedly showing police atrocity on Akhil and his resistance.

    In the mural, painted in front of the Nidhi Bhawan in Beltola, Akhil was surrounded by men in uniform carrying lathis.

    One of the artists said, “We have planned to make several similar murals across the state to raise questions on Akhil Gogoi’s prolonged arrests and the highhandedness of the state police. Our art is an expression of freedom of speech and fight against injustice.”

    But Assam Police allegedly could not handle it. Immediately, at least four of the artists were picked up and police ordered them to remove the painting immediately.

    Sources said that when the artists denied obeying police direction, city police itself whitewashed the wall to remove the painting from sight.

    “Five civilians were killed in police firing during CAA protests and they put a leader of the people behind the bars. What’s the logic and what kind of justice? Why those who killed innocent people are not even questioned?” asked Dhrubajit Sarma, an artist.

    The mural being removed

    Meanwhile, the Gauhati high court on Thursday has fixed December 8 as the next date of hearing on Akhil’s bail plea. While Akhil’s side reportedly finished its submission on Thursday, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) sought more time.

    Gogoi was arrested on December 12, 2019, from Jorhat, during the peak of the anti-CAA protests in the state. Later NIA took over the case and accused him of having nexus with Maoist outfits and booked him under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for their alleged role in the violent protest and possible links with Maoists.

    Since then, Akhil has been behind the bars.

    in October, KMSS and its allied groups floated a political party- ‘Raijor Dol’ to contest BJP and its allies in the upcoming state polls of 2021.

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