The National Investigation Agency’s (NIA) 10,000-page chargesheet in the Elgaar Parishad case relies on witness statements to draw up details about the banned CPI (Maoist), including its means of funding, training and recruitment.
According to a witness, members of the organisation collect Rs 350 per bag of tendua leaves – containing 1,000 pouches – as tax. “The amount is collected as tax/levy from adivasi/contractors. Road contractors and adivasi villagers donate some amount yearly to CPI (Maoist). Altogether, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh (MMC) zone of CPI (Maoist) gets around Rs 2.5 crore to 3 crore per year. The said funds are used for Maoist activities,” a witness has claimed in a statement that is part of the chargesheet.
Another witness statement stated that the organisation collects “jungle tax” from Tendu patta and bamboo contractors, as well as from road contractors. Shopkeepers in towns provide funds as “party help”. The party members collect funds from voluntary villagers once a year, the witness added.
It is further alleged in the chargesheet that the weapons and ammunition used by the Maoists are looted from government forces and the gelatine used for explosives is sourced from “illegal mining businesses”.
The chargesheet claimed that the organisation has an active presence in nine districts of Maharashtra including Mumbai, Pune, Ahmednagar and Gadchiroli, Surat in Gujarat and areas of Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Telangana, Jharkhand, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal.
One witness statement is about how demonetisation had affected the party’s finances. “After demonetisation, Milind Teltumbde had sent Rs 50 lakh in old currency from jungle to exchange with new currency… in 2017,” the witness has said, claiming that it was received in Nagpur by a person who claimed that Teltumbde had directed it to be sent to the city to be exchanged. But the currency could not be exchange as by then, the time for exchange was over. The person was then asked to burn the old currency.
The witnesses also claimed that training programmes are conducted for the cadre in July-August every year. These included training on weapons, surveillance on police movement, use of walkie-talkie for communication as well as classes on politics and party work.
The chargesheet said that dalams (squads) communicated with letters only through physical messengers. Cellphones are not used for calling but only rarely for downloading data or uploading emails.
“Generally, actual names of people are not used in the party. Everybody uses alias names for communication. Milind used to use ‘Jeeva’ for communication… Last time, he was using ‘Sahil’ in MMC region,” a witness has told the NIA.
Among the recoveries claimed to have been made by the Pune Police in its initial probe in the case are letters found on the digital devices of accused rights activist Rona Wilson.
The police had claimed that there were references of arrested accused in the letters with the names of some mentioned directly. The accused have, however, claimed that the letters in question were typed, undated and therefore, their authenticity remains unverified.
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