National

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar finds ‘loopholes’ in PM assassination plot case

Ajit Pawar. File photo: Vivek Bendre

Ajit Pawar. File photo: Vivek Bendre  

Minister says government willing to reopen investigation

A letter found on Delhi-based activist Rona Wilson documenting an alleged plot to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi appears to be a “spoof” that was obtained from suspicious sources, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar is believed to have told the Pune police during a review of the chargesheet filed in the “urban naxal” cases.

The particular e-mail exchange between Maoists and the alleged “urban naxals” had only a single time stamp and not two — from both the receiver and the sender — thereby raising doubts over its authenticity.

In 15 days

The source of this e-mail and other evidence documented in the 5,000-page chargesheet framing 10 activists under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) must be substantiated in 15 days time, or the Maha Vikas Aghadi government will then appoint a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to re-look these cases against “urban naxals”, Mr. Pawar is believed to have told a police team from Pune.

A team of the Pune police, comprising Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Ravindra Kadam, who was the then Joint Commissioner of Pune Police, and the Chief Investigating Officer, Assistant Commissioner of Police Shivaji Pawar, made a presentation to the government on Thursday.

‘Certain loopholes’

“We have seen the presentation from the two officers and believe there could be certain loopholes in the investigation as is being claimed by representations we have received. If some of the evidence made part of the charge-sheet are not substantiated, we are willing to re-open the investigation. A decision will be taken in the next 15 days,” Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Desmukh said.

Sources in the Maharashtra Home Department said the review also took cognisance of the two letters written by Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar on January 10 demanding a SIT on the “cooked up” charges framed against a dozen activists following the Elgar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon violence of 2017.

Following the violence, several activists connected to the Parishad were arrested in August 2018, including Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Shoma Sen, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Varavara Rao — accused of having links with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist). The Pune Police charge-sheet also alleged that a letter recovered from one of the accused had revealed an “assassination conspiracy” against PM Narendra Modi.

Scope of investigation

The review meeting was attended by Maharashtra Director General Subodh Jaiswal and State Intelligence Commissioner Rashmi Shukla. The review also discussed the scope of investigation into the alleged tapping of phones of the arrested activists, and if this was done using illegally procured a malware from Israel, officials said.

“We have also ordered a probe into allegations that spyware Pegasus was used to snoop on officials and activists in the State during the previous government’s rule. We will also check on which officers had travelled to Israel during the period to allegedly procure this malware,” Mr. Deshmukh said on Thursday.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2020 3:38:52 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/maharashtra-finds-loopholes-in-pm-assassination-plot-case/article30636694.ece

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