Why “Offence Against the State” Cases are Highest in Assam?

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CM Sarma announced that government will withdraw some 1 lakh cases, including for social media posts, to reduce the burden on the judiciary
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Guwahati: At the time when the state government has declared a crackdown upon anti national elements and chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma announcing that it would deal with anyone trying to wage a war against the sovereignty and integrity with iron fist, cases under ‘offences against the state’ have gone up sharply in Assam.

In fact, according to the latest report by the National Crime Records Bureau, Assam has recorded the country’s highest numbers of cases under ‘offences against the state’ category in 2021.

With at least three sedition cases, a total 35 cases of offences against the state last year, the report said.

However, the reason behind registering the highest number of such cases were continued to be a debate in the state. While Opposition parties have blamed the ruling BJP government of misusing Indian Penal Code (IPC) and slapping such ‘massive’ charges upon those who questioned the government, state police sources claimed that the numbers were a reflection of growing anti-national elements in the state.

In the ‘offences against the state’ category, the NCRB has included five IPC sections. They were section 124A (sedition), 121 (waging or attempting to wage war), 121A (conspiracy to commit offences punishable by section 121), 122 (collecting arms to wage war) and 123 (concealing to facilitate design to wage war).

Debabrata Saikia, leader of the opposition parties (LoP) in the state assembly and senior Congress leader said, “The ruling government has been constantly misusing the law and using police force at will. Such charges were slapped upon many only to harass them.”

Adding to him, Raijor Dal president and Sibsagar legislator Akhil Gogoi who was slapped with over 20sedition cases with a number of cases under stringent UA (P) A attributed the high numbers of cases to alleged police highhandedness.

“Anyone who complains against the government or makes any criticism over social media is slapped with sedition, UAPA and other charges saying that he or she was trying to destabilize the law and order situation,” Gogoi added.

In a huge number of cases in the state, accused were arrested for even making social media posts in the state. Earlier, even chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma announced that it would withdraw some one lakh minor cases, including for social media posts, to reduce the burden on the judiciary.

Earlier in May this year, the Supreme Court had put on hold the penal law under Section 124A of the IPC.

Meanwhile, state police sources said that the numbers of cases in the category has gone up after the state police have launched a crackdown on fundamentalist groups and Jihadi elements. Recently Assam police have nabbed over 60 persons including over 30 Popular Front of India (PFI) members for allegedly radicalizing local youths and engaging in a criminal conspiracy in waging a war against India.

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