The NIA said its probe showed a "systematic network of Maoists that operated for the supply of arms and ammunition."

Bhima Koregaon: NIA files chargesheet against 8, accuses them of waging war on state
news Violence Saturday, October 10, 2020 - 09:19
Written by  PTI

The NIA on Friday filed a supplementary charge-sheet against eight people, including activists Gautam Navlakha and 82-year-old Father Stan Swamy, for their alleged involvement in inciting a mob to violence in Bhima Koregaon near Pune on January 1, 2018 and accused them of waging war against the state, officials said.

The 10,000-page charge-sheet, filed before a court in Mumbai, brings in both the threat of Maoists for an urban revolution and Pakistan's ISI, alleging that the eight were involved in spreading the ideology of Maoism/Naxalism and encouraging lawless activities. 

The National Investigation Agency said its probe showed a "systematic network of Maoists that operated for the supply of arms and ammunition and had a close nexus with other banned proscribed organisations within and outside India". Navlakha is alleged to have links with Pakistan's ISI, according to the NIA.

Ahead of filing the charge-sheet, the NIA arrested Swamy, who said he has never been to Bhima Koregaon, from his home in Ranchi on Thursday evening and brought him to Mumbai where he was produced before a court on Friday and remanded to judicial custody till October 23.

Swamy, the sixteenth person to be arrested in the case, is possibly the oldest person to be charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), officials said.

Barring one person Milind Teltumbde who is absconding, all other named in the charge-sheet are in judicial custody.

Besides Navlakha and Swamy, the others named in the charge-sheet are Delhi University associate professor Hany Babu, Goa Institute of Management professor Anand Teltumbde, and Jyoti Jagtap, Sagar Gorkhe and Ramesh Gaichor, activists of the Bhima Koregaon Shaurya Din Prerna Abhiyaan group.

They were arrested during the course of the investigation into the violence on January 1, 2018 in which one person was killed and several injured after clashes at the 200th anniversary celebrations of the Battle of Koregaon near Pune.

Pune Police has alleged the violence was caused following provocative speeches by members of the group Elgar Parishad the day before on December 31, 2017. 

Terming the CPI(Maoist) a terrorist organisation, the charge-sheet said the eight conspired with other accused to further the group's ideology, abetted violence, brought in hatred and incited disaffection towards the government established by law and promoted enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, caste and community.

According to the NIA, the strategy and tactics adopted by Maoists to carry out an urban revolution with their frontal outfits has also been revealed during the investigation. 

Besides, funding activities of Maoist cadres and their sympathisers to carry out Maoist work in rural as well urban areas, have come to the fore, it said. 

This is the third charge-sheet filed by an investigating agency in the case. Pune Police had earlier filed charge-sheets in this case on December 15, 2018 and February 21, 2019 against 15 people. 

The NIA said the role of various frontal organisations of the CPI (Maoist) emerged during the investigation. The agency alleged that incriminating documents were recovered from the accused. These include discreet communications with other Maoist cadres over the conspiracy in the violence at Bhima Koregaon, the charge-sheet stated.

Various documents on the mobilisation of Maoist cadres against the constitutionally established government, information on the movement of security forces with the intention of causing heavy damage to the state were also found, it said.

Detailing individual charges, the NIA said Milind Teltumbde organised training camps for imparting weapons training to the other accused.

Navlakha's active role and involvement was revealed in secret communications with the CPI (Maoist) cadres and he was assigned the task of uniting intellectuals against the government, the charge-sheet alleged. 

"His links with the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) also came to fore," an NIA spokesperson said.

Anand Teltumbde was one of the convenors of "the Bhima Koregaon Shaurya Din Prerna Abhiyan" and was present at the December 31 event of the Elgar Parishad. 

He is alleged to have played an active role with other Maoist cadres and received funds from them for carrying out the activities. 

Hany Babu Is alleged to have been instrumental in organising visits of foreign journalists to CPI (Maoist) areas. He was also in contact with the banned terrorist organisation Kanglepak Communist Party (KCP) of Manipur and made efforts for the release of convicted accused G N Saibaba on the directions of the CPI (Maoist) and also raised funds for the purpose, the NIA said. 

The agency alleged that Sagar Gorkhe, Ramesh Gaichor and Jyoti Jagtap are trained cadres of the CPI (Maoist) and members of its frontal organisation Kabir Kala Manch.

Swamy, the NIA claimed, was also actively involved in the activities of the CPI (Maoist). 

The NIA alleged that he was in contact with "conspirators" -- Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Hany Babu, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut, Varavara Rao, Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha and Anand Teltumbde -- to further the group's activities.

The agency said Swamy had also received funds through an associate for furthering the agenda. Besides, he is convenor of the Persecuted Prisoners Solidarity Committee (PPSC), a frontal organisation of the CPI(Maoist), the officials claimed.

Swamy's lawyer Sharif Shaikh said his client was produced physically before the court. "The NIA did not seek his custody. He is aged. We will peruse the papers and file for a bail," he said.

Ahead of his arrest in the evening, Swamy posted a video on Thursday morning saying the NIA had been interrogating him and had questioned him for 15 hours during a span of five days.

"Now they want me to go to Mumbai, which I have said that I won't go," he said, citing the pandemic.

The video, posted on YouTube, was recorded two days before his arrest.

"I have never been to Bhima Koregaon for which I am being made an accused," he said. 

"...what is happening to me is not something unique happening to me alone, it is a broader process taking place all over the country. We all are aware how prominent intellectuals, lawyers, writers, poets, activists, student leaders are all put in jail because they have expressed their dissent or raised questions about the ruling powers of India," Swamy said in the video.

He said he is part of "the process" and in a way happy to be so because he is not a silent spectator and is part of the game.

"I am ready to pay the price whatever be it," Swamy said.

The NIA took up the investigation of the case on January 24, 2020. It said it brought reliable, material and documentary evidence on record through "meticulous, scientific and detailed analysis of more than 10,000 pages of communications made by various accused". 

"NIA's investigation revealed that the tentacles of conspiracy were not only spread throughout the country but also extended beyond India," an NIA spokesperson said.