Manas Konwar

Student activist Manas Konwar was arrested on January 7, 2020 and charged under the draconian and discriminatory UAPA.


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

Manas Konwar is a leader of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti’s (KMSS) student wing, Satra Mukti Sangram Samiti (SMSS), according to The Wire. Konwar, along with Akhil Gogoi, Dharjya Konwar, and Bittu Sonowal, 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. In July 2020, about seven months after his arrest, Manas Konwar was granted bail by the National Investigation Agency but was not released from jail, according to reporting by The Wire. KMSS told The Wire that Konwar went on a hunger strike in protest.

Konwar’s older brother Madhurjya Konwar spoke to The Wire and said, “This is a violation of basic human rights and is in violation of Article 21 and 22 of the constitution. The administration cannot do this, and it shows that it is an attempt to sabotage our individual rights.” He later said, “Speaking against Citizenship Amendment Act or expressing dissent does not equal to waging a war against the nation. To protest and to speak out against a particular law or the government is part of a democratic process.”

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 and released from jail 

Last Update

Konwar was released on July 14, 2020 after being denied immediate release the day prior, according to The Wire.

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