Bhima Koregaon clashes: Letter found in possession of accused indicates violence may have been scripted
The letter was written by Milind Teltumbde, a top Communist Party of India (Maoist) operative, who carries a reward of ₹50 lakh on his head, to activist Rona Wilson on January 2, a day after the violence.
A letter found in the possession of one of the five persons arrested on Wednesday in connection with the January clashes in Bhima Koregaon during the Elgar Parishad indicates that the violence may have been scripted.
The letter, a copy of which is with HT, was written by Milind Teltumbde, a top Communist Party of India (Maoist) operative, who carries a reward of ₹50 lakh on his head, to activist Rona Wilson on January 2, a day after the violence.
Wilson was arrested on Wednesday along with Sudhir Dhawale, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut and Soma Sen from different locations for alleged Maoist links. A special court in Pune on Thursday remanded the five to police custody till June 14.
The letter, which police are now investigating, states “the Bhima Koregaon agitation has been very effective. The unfortunate death of a youth must be exploited to prepare future agitations and propaganda material”.
Pune’s joint police commissioner Ravindra Kadam said the contents of the letter are being probed. “We have collected many documents. The said letter is one of the documents recovered from Wilson’s laptop,” said Kadam. The prosecution also quoted the contents of the letter in court while seeking custody of the arrested.
Kadam said the investigating officials have strong “prima facie evidence” to indicate the “participation and inspiration of Maoists” in the organisation of the Elgar Parishad.
A 28-year-old man was killed in the clashes and mobs damaged and torched several vehicles and shops and ransacked houses on New Year’s day. An estimated ₹13 crore of property was damaged or destroyed in the riots. According to the letter, people associated with the Maoist movement had been working for the Elgar Parishad for two months.
“Comrade Manglu and comrade Deepu have been coordinating the Bhima Koregaon programme since two months with comrade Sudhir,” the letter stated. It also has references of a national political party and a prominent political leader linked to the Ambedkar movement.
Justice (retired) BG Kolse Patil alleged that the government was using police machinery to create false cases. He was one of the organisers of the Elgar Parishad.
Harshali Potdar, another organiser and a Republican Panthers member, alleged, “...While the police are giving a clean chit to right-wing leaders like Sambhaji Bhide, they are arresting Dalit activists,” Potdar said.
The city police, however, maintained that the forensic clone copies of the computer and laptop hard disks seized from Gadling and Wilson during searches revealed documents showing close relations with the banned Maoist outfit.