India: Deteriorating health condition while in detention of Mr. Akhil Gogoi

06/03/2020
Urgent Appeal

IND 002 / 0320 / OBS 019
Arbitrary detention /
Degradation of health condition /
Judicial harassment
India
March 6, 2020

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in India.

Brief description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the deteriorating health while in detention of Mr. Akhil Gogoi, President of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), a peasant rights organisation based in Assam1. Mr. Gogoi has long been suffering from severe back pain and kidney related issues.

According to the information received, on February 29, 2020, Mr. Akhil Gogoi was taken from Guwahati Central Jail in Assam, where he has been detained since December 12, 2019, to the Gauhati Medical College, as a result of the significant deterioration of his health while in detention, in the absence of proper medical care and treatment. Mr. Gogoi was kept under observation at the Gauhati Medical College for one day only, before being sent back to Guwahati Central Jail, despite having complained about stomach pain due to a urinary tract infection. No medical tests were conducted while he was under observation, reportedly due to the absence of clearance from the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

On March 2, 2020, Mr. Gogoi’s legal counsels were not able to meet him as he could not leave his bed due to a high fever and severe stomach pain. On March 3, 2020, his wife was not able to see him due to his poor health. On March 6, 2020, Mr. Gogoi was brought back to the Gauhati Medical College, where several tests were finally conducted. However, the results of the tests have not been shared with the family, although they were transmitted to the jail authorities.

Mr. Akhil Gogoi was arrested on December 12, 2019, immediately after delivering a speech during a peaceful protest against the recently-passed Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)2 in Jorhat, Assam. He was subsequently charged with sedition and criminal conspiracy under Sections 120 (B), 124 (A), 153 (A), 153 (B) of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 18 and 39 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). On December 26, 2019, his house was raided by NIA officials, who seized several documents including books. His remand to judicial custody has been extended several times since his arrest. Mr. Gogoi faces life imprisonment if convicted.

The Observatory expresses its utmost concern about the arbitrary detention and the deteriorating health of Mr. Akhil Gogoi, and recalls that he was already subjected to judicial harassment in the past for expressing his criticism of the CAA3.

The Observatory calls on the Indian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release him, and to grant him immediate access to the medical attention he requires.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in India, urging them to:
 
i. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Mr. Akhil Gogoi, and give him immediate and unconditional access to the medical attention he requires;

ii. Immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Akhil Gogoi, and all other human rights defenders arbitrarily detained in India, since their detention is arbitrary as it seems to be merely aimed at sanctioning their human rights activities;

iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment - including at the judicial level - against Mr. Akhil Gogoi and all human rights defenders in India, and ensure that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals in all circumstances;
 
iv. Conform to the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted on December 9, 1998 by the United Nations General Assembly, in particular its Articles 1 and 12.2.;
 
v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights instruments ratified by India.

Addresses:

• Mr. Narendra Damodardas Modi, Prime Minister of India, Fax: + 91 11 2301 6857. E-mail: pmosb@pmo.nic.in / manmo@sansad.in
• Mr. Amit Shah, Union Minister of Home Affairs of India, Fax: +91 11 2309 2979. Email: dirfcra-mha@gov.in
• Mr. Ajay Kumar Bhalla, Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs of India, Email: hshso@nic.in
 Mr. Sharad Arvind Bobde, Chief Justice of India, Supreme Court, of India, Fax: +91 11 233 83792, Email: supremecourt@nic.in
 Mr. H.L. Dattu, Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of India, Fax +91 11 2465 1329. Email: chairnhrc@nic.in
 Mr. Khaleel Ahmad, Focal Point on Human Rights Defenders, National Human Rights Commission of India, Email: hrd-nhrc@nic.in
 H.E. Mr. Rajiv Kumar Chander, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Fax: +41 22 906 86 96, Email: mission.india@ties.itu.int
 H.E. Ms. Gaitri Issar Kumar, Embassy of India to the European Union, Belgium and Luxembourg in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 2 6489638 / +32 2 6451869

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of India located in your country.

***
Geneva-Paris, March 6, 2020

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
• E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
• Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
• Tel and fax FIDH: + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

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[1]Founded by Mr. Akhil Gogoi in 2005, KMSS works notably in favour of land rights and since 2009 has also been leading a statewide movement against the construction of big dams in the ecologically sensitive regions of Assam State and Arunachal Pradesh State.
[2]The CAA grants citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who had entered India by December 31, 2014 and if they have lived in India for six years. Not only does it violate Article 14 of the Indian Constitution guaranteeing the right to equality, but it also contradicts the citizenship cut-off date of March 24, 1971 provided for in the Assam Accord. This also implies that individuals with religious affiliations outside of the six named above, including Muslims and atheists, will not be eligible for a citizenship under the conditions of the CAA.
[3]See Observatory Urgent Appeals IND 005/0917/OBS 106 and ​IND 001/0119/OBS 004, published respectively on September 29, 2017 and January 15, 2019.

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