A letter seized from the house of one of the five activists arrested recently on the charge of having links with the outlawed CPI (Maoist) speaks of Naxalites mulling over “another Rajiv Gandhi incident” as part of “concrete steps to end the Modi raj,” the Pune police submitted before the Sessions court in Pune.
Teams of the police on Wednesday arrested noted Dalit activist-publisher Sudhir Dhawale from Mumbai, prominent human rights lawyer Surendra Gadling, tribal activist Mahesh Raut and Nagpur University English Professor Shoma Sen from Nagpur and activist Rona Wilson from New Delhi.
The arrests were made for their alleged linkages with Naxalism, their role in organising the ‘Elgaar Parishad’ on December 31 last and the subsequent Bhima-Koregaon violence the next day.
In their submission on Thursday, the police said they seized the letter from Wilson’s house in New Delhi in which ultras, among other things, mention about “the requirement of ₹8 crore for an annual supply of M-4 carbines and four lakh rounds.”
The letter also speaks about pulling off “another Rajiv Gandhi type incident” by “targeting his [read Prime Minister Modi’s] road shows”, special public prosecutor Ujjwala Pawar told the court.
“We are thinking along the lines of another Rajiv Gandhi incident. It sounds suicidal and there is a chance that we might fail but we feel that the party PB/ CC [Politburo/ Central Committee] must deliberate on our proposal,” Ms. Pawar quoted the letter as saying.
All 5 arrested remanded in police custody till June 14
All the five arrested were produced before the Sessions court on Thursday and it remanded them in police custody till June 14.
While seeking their remand, Ms. Pawar quoted from another letter allegedly seized from Wilson’s residence that ostensibly speaks of the “appreciation” of the CPI (Maoist) brass for the “endearing efforts of all urban comrades.”
“Comrades Mangalu and Deepu have been coordinating the Koregaon programme [for] last two months with Comrade Sudhir,” said Ms. Pawar, quoting from this letter.
She further submitted that the letter showed that funds [for the 'Elgaar Parishad' and other activities] were allegedly provided by Maoists to “comrade Sudhir” for the Bhima-Koregaon “task” and “comrades Shoma and Surendra” were “authorised to provide funds for future programmes.”
Defence counsel say letters are fabricated
Defence counsel, in their arguments, said the accused had been framed and that the documents submitted by the prosecution were “fabricated by the authorities.”
“These [letters] are a vague submission. The veracity of their contents and authorship has yet to be proven,” said advocate Tosif Shaikh, one of the defence lawyers.
While stating that chances of fabrication and doctoring by the investigating authorities could not be ignored, Mr. Shaikh questioned the police’s motive behind producing the documents now.
“More than a month has passed after raids [in April] had been conducted in the residences of those arrested. At the time, laptops, electronic devices and other documents had been seized. So, if there was indeed something as shocking as the contents of the supposedly explosive letters show, why didn’t the police arrest the accused at the time and produce the letters forthwith?” he said.
“A diversionary feint”
Advocate Kumar Kalel alleged that the police investigation was “a diversionary feint” to protect the real perpetrators of the Bhima-Koregaon riots and completely illogical.
“The Pune Rural police have themselves filed a case against Hindutva leader Milind Ekbote, accused of orchestrating the Bhima-Koregaon violence. Then, why no case has been registered against Ekbote under the UAPA [Unlawful Activities (Prevention] Act …and Ekbote has already faced arrest under the Atrocities Act,” said Mr. Shaikh.
Mr. Kalel said the Vishrambaug Wada police, which conducted the five arrests, was acting on a complaint registered by a certain Tushar Damgude, who made allegations against participants of the ‘Elgaar Parishad’ for allegedly delivering “provocative speeches.”
“How can the police base their arrests on the complaint of someone [Damgude] who claims he obtained his knowledge of allegedly ‘provocative’ events through social media,” said Mr. Shaikh.
Filing of FIR
On January 8, the Vishrambaug Wada police lodged an FIR based on Mr. Damgude’s complaint against six members (including Mr. Dhawale) of the Kabir Kala Manch (KKK)— a radical Dalit cultural troupe.
The FIR was lodged against them for making allegedly ‘provocative’ speeches and presentations calculated to promote enmity between two groups at the ‘Elgaar Parishad’ held at Pune’s Shaniwarwada Fort — the erstwhile seat of Peshwa power — on December 31 as part of the bicentenary celebrations of the Bhima-Koregaon battle.
Thousands of persons from more than 250 progressive social outfits, including several left-leaning and Ambedkarite groups across Maharashtra participated in the event.