RTI activist detained in Assam

Guwahati, April 11 (IANS) Ahead of the second and last phase of assembly elections in Assam Monday, Akhil Gogoi, a farmers' leader and a Right to Information (RTI) award winner, was detained during a press conference here Sunday. He was later released and the district administration apologised to him.

Gogoi, leader of the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), an apolitical body, was detained by the police from the middle of the press conference at the Guwahati Press Club as he was speaking about what he called the rampant corruption in the Congress-led government.

According to the Kamrup Metro district administration, Gogoi's press conference after the official conclusion of campaigning for the second phase of elections Saturday was a violation of the Election Commission's model code of conduct.

'Akhil Gogoi was detained under the RP (Representation of People's) Act 126,' Kamal Medhi, publicity secretary of KMSS told IANS over phone.

According to Section 126 of the RP Act, no person should convene, hold, attend, join or address any public meeting in any polling area during the period of 48 hours ending with the hour fixed for the conclusion of the poll.

'If that is the case, then (Assam Chief Minister) Tarun Gogoi should have been arrested for holding a press conference in Jorhat April 3, a day ahead of the first phase of polls (April 4), after the conclusion of official campaigning April 2,' Medhi said.

Akhil Gogoi, on his part, said his was an apolitical organization and was not liable to the model code of conduct.

An Anna Hazare-supporter in the fight against corruption, Akhil Gogoi went on an indefinite fast at the Panbazar police station in Guwahati.

The state government acted swiftly with Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi ordering the release of the RTI activist with immediate effect.

Kamrup Metro deputy commissioner J. Balaji apologised to Akhil Gogoi in the presence of the media and the public in front of the Panbazar police station.

After his release, a huge number of Akhil Gogoi supporters went on a footmarch from Panbazar to Chandmari in the heart of the city.

At the time of filing of this report, a massive public rally was being held by Gogoi on the GNB-Maniram Dewan Road in Chandmari.

Akhil Gogoi is a recipient of the 2008 Shanmugam Manjuanth Intregity Award and the 2010 national RTI Award from the Public Cause Research Foundation.