Assam Chief Minister and BJP leader Sarbananda Sonowal’s Facebook page was bombarded with “comrade” and “lal salam”, as a strong reaction to NIA chargesheeting an Assamese youth, Bittoo Sonowal, under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
The NIA chargesheet submitted on June 5, in its ‘list of material objects’, had submitted a DVD containing data from the Facebook profile of Bittoo of January 10, 2020 in which he was seen being addressed by some friends as “comrade” and used words like ‘lal salam”.
The chargesheet also includes as evidence a Facebook post in which Bittoo has posted a picture of Communist leader Lenin and a comment that states, “The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.”
Sonowal is a close aide of prominent activist Akhil Gogoi, who leads the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), one of the outfits instrumental in organising the protests against the CAA in Assam in December 2019. Gogoi and Sonowal, along with Dhairjya Konwar and Manas Konwar, were booked by NIA on charges of sedition and under UAPA for allegedly being overground workers of the banned CPI (Maoist) soon after the protests broke out.
Reading the Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and Lenin’s works, Mao Zedong’s life, and calling friends comrade and greeting them with Lal Salam are some of the grounds that the NIA has cited to link them to the banned CPI(Maoist) and charge them under the stringent anti- terror law.
After the contents of the charge-sheet became public, the outrage spilled over to the Facebook page of Sonowal, who also holds the Home ministry.
“Red Salute Red Salute. If Red salute is a crime you go and arrest Patriot Bhagathsing first then come back if you are still remains…..!!!,” one user commented under CM’s Facebook post.
“Lalsalam. Dear comrede. Long live lenin. Welcome NIA,” wrote another.
The chief minister’s office said, “Assam Police have written to Facebook to take action.”