Dharjya Konwar

Activist Dharjya Konwar was arrested on January 7, 2020 and charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).


The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Hindu nationalist party led by current Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has been strategically targeting Indian activists and journalists, specifically those critical of the Indian government, since it took power in 2014. The state uses laws like the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) to detain people, many of whom are student activists, without a formal charge or trial.

Activists and human rights advocates have expressed grave concerns over the immense crackdown on free speech in India, according to Wired. Specifically, the UAPA is a tool to silence and remove voices of dissent — especially Kashmiri, Muslim, Dalit, and Adivasi voices of dissent — without the need for evidence. In May 2022, some UN experts spoke out about how many aspects of the UAPA oppose international human rights law and standards. Many activists were booked under the UAPA following the 2019-2020 protests against the highly discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

Life and Activism

Dharjya Konwar is a leader of the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samity (KMSS), along with activists Akhil Gogoi and Bittu Sonowal. He is also a leader of KMSS’ student wing, Satra Mukti Sangram Samiti (SMSS), according to The Wire. KMSS works with indigenous communities in Assam to protect their land rights. They were accused by the NIA of acting as overground workers of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) and of being involved with the Maoist conspiracy, according to the Asian Centre for Human Rights’ (ACHR) report titled “India’s UAPA: Jail, not bail, is the rule.” Konwar and others were also accused both of waging war against the Indian state and of involvement in the violence that occurred during and after the protests in Assam against the CAA. While in prison, Konwar, Gogoi, and Sonawal contracted COVID-19 and tested positive on July 9, 2020, according to Frontline Defenders.

Charges and Allegations

Konwar was charged for sedition, for promoting enmity, and under various sections of the UAPA, according to the ACHR report.

Current Status

Granted bail.

Last Update

According to reporting by The Wire, Konwar was granted bail on July 17, 2020. He had been in prison for almost 200 days.

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