Evidence planted; CPI demands immediate release of all arrested in Bhima Koregaon case

All the activists and academics arrested in the Bhima Koregaon case should be released immediately, Communist Party of India demanded on Thursday in the light of the latest revelations that showed that the case was based on planted and manipulated documents.

Key evidence against rights activist and researcher Rona Wilson, the first person to be arrested in the Bhima Koregaon case that is being investigated by the NIA, was planted on a laptop seized by Pune police, a report by Arsenal Consulting, a Massachusetts-based digital forensics firm, has claimed.

Country’s 16 prominent activists and intellectuals are incarcerated, facing charges under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) based on letters primarily retrieved from Wilson and co-accused Surendra Gadling’s computer, to claim a conspiracy to kill the Prime Minister and overthrow the government.

“The party deplores the way the NIA and other agencies act in order to suppress the genuine voice of opposition and dissent to the government policies. The party demands that this must stop immediately and the release of all innocent accused,” CPI general secretary D Raja said in a statement.

The left party said it was not surprising that no action had been taken against the two persons who actually instigated communal tensions, Sambhaji Bhide and Ekbote.

CPI demanded an impartial probe in the case.

The new digital forensic report shows that the hacker initially carried out surveillance and later delivered 52 documents which were stored in a hidden folder called ‘Rbackup.’ The last document was added just a day before Wilson’s house was searched and his laptop was seized, on April 17, 2018.

Meanwhile, Wilson on Wednesday, approached the Bombay High Court seeking the formation of a Special Investigation Team to inquire into the planting of fabricated documents in his computer over a course of around 22 months.

A total of 16 people have been arrested in the Bhima Koregaon case so far. In 2018, as part of a massive crackdown on human rights defenders in India, 9 prominent activists– Sudha Bharadwaj, Shoma Sen, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Arun Ferreira, Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Vernon Gonsalves, and Varavara Rao were arrested by the Pune Police in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon case. Two years later, the crackdown on human rights defenders continues with the arrests of Gautam Navlakha, Anand Teltumbde, Hany Babu, Sagar Gorkhe, Ramesh Gaichor, Jyoti Jagtap, and Stan Swamy.