NIA submits charge sheet against 8 in Bhima Koregaon case
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Friday filed a charge sheet against eight people including Hany Babu, Gautam Navlakha, and 83-year-old Stan Swamy, alleging that the Bhima Koregaon violence was a “well-chalked-out strategy” for which these people were in touch with Maoist leaders through “codes”.
The charge sheet also alleged that Navlakha has links with Pakistan’s spy agency – Inter-Services Intelligence.
The Pune Police, while conducting investigations in the case previously, contended that provocative speeches made at an Elgar Parishad event, which was allegedly funded by Maoists, triggered caste clashes near Bhima Koregaon village on January 1 in 2018, leading to the death of one person and sparking more unrest.
While the agency says Milind Teltumde is absconding, the others named in the charge sheet are in judicial custody. Other than activist Navlakha, Delhi University professor Hany Babu and cleric Swamy, the others named in the charge sheet are Goa Institute of Management professor Anand Teltumbde and three members of the Kabir Kala Manch – Jyoti Jagtap, Sagar Gorkhe and Ramesh Gaichor.
The activists have repeatedly denied all charges of the investigators and said that action against them was a way to muzzle the voice of dissent in the country. The probe by the agency has been criticised by multiple groups for targeting voices of dissent against the Union government.
Swamy, arrested early on Friday, said he never visited Bhima Koregaon and had no role to play in any conspiracy. “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,” he said in a video.
Navlakha’s lawyer Yug Chaudhry said: “I cannot comment anything before reading the charge sheet”.
Asserting that the Bhima Koregaon incident was part of a larger international conspiracy, NIA spokesperson Sonia Narang said the investigators have reliable oral, documentary and material evidence that establishes the role of Navlakha, Teltumbde, Hany Babu and others based on meticulous, scientific and detailed analysis of more than 10,000 pages of their communications recovered during the probe. On the basis of this evidence, a detailed charge sheet running into 10,000 pages has been filed.
Detailing alleged roles of the arrested activists, NIA said that Anand Teltumbde was one of the conveners of “Bhima Koregaon Shaurya Din Prerna Abhiyan” and was present at Shaniwar Wada, Pune on December 31, 2017 where the Elgar Parishad programme was organised.
Navlakha, NIA said, was secretly communicating with CPI (Maoist) cadres. “He was assigned the task to unite intellectuals against the government. He was also part of some fact-finding committees and was assigned the task to recruit cadres for guerrilla activities of CPI (Maoist). His links with Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) also came to fore,” NIA said.
About associate professor at Delhi University, Hany Babu, NIA said that he was instrumental in organising visits of foreign journalists to CPI (Maoist)-linked areas and was assigned present and future task of Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF), a banned organisation in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
It added that Gorkhe, Gaichor and Jagtap are trained cadres of CPI (Maoist) and members of Kabir Kala Manch, which is a frontal organsiation of the banned outfit.
The federal agency took over investigations from the Maharashtra Police in January this year. Navlakha and Teltumbde surrendered before NIA in April this year.
“NIA’s investigation revealed that the tentacles of conspiracy were not only spread throughout the country but also extended beyond India,” Narang said in the statement.
“It also included various documents regarding mobilisation against the constitutionally established government by the Maoist cadres, information about movement of the security forces with an intention to cause heavy damage to the state,” Narang said. “Discreet codes were used for secret communication amongst themselves to avoid detection by security forces regarding their conspiracy and planning,” she added.