Bhima-Koregaon clashes: MVA govt. must appoint retired judge to probe ‘managed’ cases against activists, says Digvijaya

Digvijaya Singh (File photo)

Digvijaya Singh (File photo)

Congress leader and former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijaya Singh has demanded that the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government appoint a retired judge of the Bombay High Court to look into the ‘managed’ cases of activists arrested by the Pune Police for their alleged Maoist links and role in the Bhima-Koregaon clashes.

In a series of tweets late on Wednesday, Mr. Singh lashed out at the former government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He said, “The previous govt nearly framed me as #urbannaxal in #Bhimaakoreogao and #ElgarParishad which only proves that it was a managed case and good activist are still behind jail When will they get justice.”

In another tweet, he said, “Police officers called me up that they will help in this case and when I said prosecute me they never called me again.I m ready to tell this to any agency Maharashtra Govt should appoint a retired HighCourt judge to look into all managed cases.”

On the Pegasus spyware case, in which cell phones of activists were allegedly hacked into, Mr. Singh said, “Is the @OfficeofUT going to give details in public that who was behind snooping and tapping in #maharashtra Who were the officers of Maharashtra Govt who went to #Israel to talk to #NS0 the brain behind malware.”

Digvijaya Singh

Digvijaya Singh

On Thursday, Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said the MVA government has taken serious note of the allegations. Mr. Deshmukh said, “My department will be conducting an inquiry to check which officers had travelled to Israel and whether any technology was brought in here to snoop.”

Mr. Deshmukh said the allegations indicate that politicians not affiliated to the BJP were snooped upon during the Assembly elections. Only two agencies — State Intelligence Department and Anti Terrorism Squad — are authorised to tap telephonic conversations with the government’s permission, he said.

Similar concerns

Mr. Singh’s demand for a probe into the Pune Police’s actions in the case was also raised by Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar last month, soon after the formation of the MVA government. Mr. Pawar had termed the arrest of academics, lawyers and activists like Surendra Gadling, Sudha Bharadwaj and Shoma Sen “wrong” and “vengeful”. He said he would ask for a Special Investigation Team to look into the arrests.

In 2018, the Pune Police said Mr. Singh’s cell phone number had surfaced in one of the alleged Naxal communications seized during raids on June 6 on the homes of Mr. Gadling, Ms. Sen and three others.

The letter, dated September 25, 2017, allegedly written by comrade Prakash to a comrade Surendra (supposedly a reference to Mr. Gadling) talks about the need to “intensify nationwide protests using students [since] state forces will be soft against students which will gradually put the state at a disadvantage while acting against us”.

In this context, the letters states, “Congress leaders are very much willing to assist in this process and have also agreed fund further agitations whenever such opportunities arrive. In this regard you can contact our friend at [a mobile number allegedly belonging to Mr. Singh].”

At a press conference in Delhi following the raids, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra flayed the Congress for its “double-standards” on the Naxalism while stating that the “phone number belonged to Mr. Singh, party leader Rahul Gandhi’s mentor. Brandishing a letter allegedly seized by the police, Mr. Patra said, “Mr. Singh hasn’t clarified that it’s not his number and thus has accepted that it is his.”

In response, Mr. Singh dared the Narendra Modi-led Central government to arrest him if his Naxal links were proved. “First I was dubbed a ‘traitor’ and now I’m branded a ‘Naxalite’. If it is indeed so, then I must me arrested right here,” Mr. Singh had told reporters in Satna.

Police refutes claims

However, the police in November that year refuted reports suggesting that Mr. Singh could be questioned in connection with banned Maoist outfits and the Bhima-Koregaon clashes of January 1, 2018. Shivaji Pawar, the then Assistant Commissioner of Police and investigating officer in the case, had clarified that no move was being mooted on part of the police to question Mr. Singh in the case.

(With inputs from Alok Deshpande)

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Printable version | May 25, 2022 11:45:53 am |