When Akhil Gogoi was arrested by the Government last afternoon, June 24, it marked two things very clearly:
- Akhil Gogoi succeeded in overcoming the controversy of the nature of the largely undemocratic and chaotic protest two days earlier
- The Congress led Government failed to destroy Akhil Gogoi’s gaining popularity and importance as an alternate opposition.
The congress (I) politicians at power now had proudly declared after elections that they would not care about Akhil Gogoi’s deeds and give him least importance. Tarun Gogoi had called him a drama artist. Himanta Biswa Sharma had criticized with sarcasm that the people had rejected Akhil Gogoi by voting for the Congress. However by arresting Akhil Gogoi in midst of his press-conference, the Congress (I) led Government actually made a blunder. Things could have turned in favor of the Government if they had initiated talks with the victims and the landless people first, taken care of the grievance handling and then look out to punish the guilty. There was a mixed opinion about the entire incident within the public and a positive step to solve the issue first than to find who is to be blamed would have done wonders for the Government. Instead, the proud Congress (I) leaders chose to show their powers first and arrested Akhil Gogoi. Trying to show that they were strict with administration and law and order, the police arrested Akhil Gogoi.
This led to what Akhil Gogoi would have actually wanted, – strong public sympathy and support. The dark side of the protest had created for him a risk of losing his face in front of the people. In fact most intellectuals and civil societies had actually started blaming and criticizing Akhil for the incident already. Lakhs of followers and supporters of Akhil Gogoi, created by his stand against corruption and mega dams were disheartened seeing their own new favorite rebellious leader in such shape and state. As soon as he was arrested, both section of the public who were against or for Akhil Gogoi after the violent protests, aligned together. Support for Akhil Gogoi poured in from all sections once again and the black stains put on his names washed away immediately.
The action of the police on the public as well as the violence induced by protestors was barbaric and unacceptable. However the recent incident leads to two important questions which most of us are yet ignoring knowingly or unknowingly:
Why did Akhil Gogoi and KMSS have to lie
In a long press release, the KMSS and Akhil Gogoi has claimed that the violence induced by the protestors in Guwahati was actually not done by them and by some other miscreants, aimed at destroying the efforts of KMSS. However there is enough evidence with us and the media that most of the violence was actually induced by members of the KMSS. Clear video footage have shown that members of the KMSS have indulged in stone-throwing and destroying buses. Most of these people are not absconding now and are expected to remain underground for some time till the storm blows away.
Akhil Gogoi could have well accepted the truth that members of his party did indulge in violence and that he was unable to control them. This would have brought in a huge trust factor to him form the people, especially since he was known as a Right to Information man. Instead, he chose to keep the truth hidden and blamed the police for opening fire first. The eye witness and onlookers very well know what the truth is. The policemen as per section 98/99 of IPC can very well open fire in defense against a violent agitating mob. The same had happened here.
Why does Paresh Baruah faction send a press release in Akhil Gogoi’s support and praise each time he says or does something
Right from the days when Akhil Gogoi started his movements at Doyang and Tengani areas in 2006, Paresh Baruah has been continuously sending press releases in support of Akhil Gogoi each time he makes headlines or any activity. He is even called as Martin Luther King by Paresh Baruah! In addition, there have been often whispers and complaints that Akhil Gogoi is the puppet of someone else, – sometimes Prafulla Mahanta, sometimes Maoist! (Though little truth is found in these claims).
One may merely call these showers of blessings by Paresh Baruah on Akhil Gogoi an attempt by Baruah to connect to the public and improve his own public connection. However the fact cannot be ignored especially when we can clearly see an alternate opposition wing in the making with Akhil Gogoi. With GOI-ULFA talks around and Paresh Baruah keeping to his deep rooted strategy, this connection cannot be ignored as something unimportant. This may very well become an important step in an alternate political reform or change in the state in coming days.
In fact with yesterday’s incident, Paresh Baruah faction declared in a press release sent to media that this incident proves that democracy is dead in Assam and justifies the need of an armed struggle! One wonders if we would indeed see Akhil Gogoi and the protests of KMSS getting more and more un-democratic day by day, justifying armed struggle.