A special National Investigation Agency court on Thursday denied bail to forest rights activist Mahesh Raut who has been imprisoned under draconian UAPA in the Bhima Koregaon case, reported Hindustan Times.
Though NIA has been alleging that Raut had provided funds for banned organisations and sent some students to the jungle to join the Naxalite movement, the prosecution have not been able to provide a single name, Raut’s lawyer, Advocate Vijay Hiremath, said to the court.
Raut has studied in Nagpur and Nashik, and then in 2011 passed out of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). He was teaching in Goa and did a fellowship on conflict zones, he is a former fellow of the prestigious Prime Minister’s Rural Development Programme of the Ministry of Rural Development and has worked with the Gadchiroli collector, the lawyer told the court.
According to the Pune Police, which initially investigated the case, Raut had taken students of the TISS to meet absconding underground Maoist leaders in 2017. The NIA claimed that the forest rights activist had recruited two former TISS students for the Maoists and they had undergone arms training.
“There is nothing on record about the funding.. Equally, the charge-sheet does not contain anything about the allegation that Raut was a recruiter for the Naxalite movement,” Raut’s lawyer said.
The country’s top anti-terrorism investigation agency claimed that a letter found on co-accused Rona Wilson’s computer had Raut’s name, reported the newspaper. NIA claimed that the letter seized from Wilson’s computer mentioned “Mahesh” and claimed that through unknown channels Raut passed on ₹5 lakh for the Elgar Parishad event to Sudhir Dhawale, Shoma Sen and Surendra Gadling.
Responding to these allegations, Hiremath argued that the existence of the letter on the computer was disputed in the report of US-based Arsenal Consulting. A forensic report by the firm had found that a hacker had used malware to infiltrate Wilson’s laptop before his arrest and planted at least 10 incriminating letters on his computer. On the basis of the report, the case has already been challenged in the High Court.
Lawyer also told the special NIA court that the the agency has failed to find a money trail and also whether it is the same Mahesh or some other person.
“These are all wild allegations,” Hindustan Times quotes Hiremath as saying.
Mahesh Raut is the youngest political prisoner in the 2018 Bhima Koregaon violence case.