Rona Wilson, arrested for alleged Maoist links in Koregaon Bhima violence, being produced in court in Pune after his arrest in June 2018 (File Photo)(HT Photo)
Rona Wilson, arrested for alleged Maoist links in Koregaon Bhima violence, being produced in court in Pune after his arrest in June 2018 (File Photo)(HT Photo)

‘Another ploy’: Govt rebuts claim that letters were planted in Wilson’s laptop

  • Rona Wilson was arrested in June 2018 on suspicion of his alleged links with the violence that erupted in Bhima Koregaon village in Maharashtra in January
By HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON FEB 11, 2021 11:33 AM IST

Forensic scientists who examined the laptop seized from activist Rona Wilson’s residence in April 2018 did not find any evidence of any malware in the electronic device, a government official said on Thursday, rebutting the findings of an American digital forensics consulting firm that fabricated evidence was planted in the electronic evidence.

Rona Wilson was arrested in June 2018 on suspicion of his alleged links with the violence that erupted in Bhima Koregaon village in Maharashtra on January 1, 2018, during the bicentennial celebrations of a British-era war commemorated by Dalits.

The Washington Post had first reported findings of the US-based Arsenal Consulting that alleged that Rona Wilson’s device had been compromised in 2016 via a phishing attack which allowed the attacker to conduct surveillance and plant incriminating evidence till April 17, 2018, when electronic evidence was seized by the Pune Police.

The National Investigation Agency has denied the claim, citing the report of the Indian forensic experts who did not find any such evidence.

The government official cited above called the US firm’s forensic report an attempt to discredit the investigation and find faults with the evidence. The content and incidents mentioned in the letters claimed to have been planted in Rona Wilson’s electronic devices were corroborated in the charge sheet by other oral, documentary and technical evidence submitted with the charge sheet. This is also evident from the activities of Rona Wilson who visited the densely-forested area of Abhujmad in Chhattisgarh that is considered to be a base for Maoist fighters.

The official said highly incriminating oral and documentary evidence has been collected which has already been submitted along with the charge sheet and a cogent case with entire evidence against the accused has been submitted before the trial court.

Investigating officials said that videos were taken of all the evidence seized by the Pune Police from Wilson’s residence, which included hard disk, CDs, laptop, mobile phones, memory cards, etc. These were enumerated in a seizure memo following due procedure following which a strict “chain of custody” was maintained. The evidence was sent to Regional FSL Pune for further examination. The report did not indicate any instance of tampering with digital devices.

The Pune Police and the NIA, which later took over the investigations, have submitted three charge sheets against 22 accused persons including 6 who are still on the run and none of them has been granted any relief including bail by courts though India has a highly robust judicial system and the accused persons get the best possible opportunity to represent their case.

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