Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh on Monday dared Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to prove that the former Madhya Pradesh CM had any links with the Naxals and was involved in “anti-national activities”. The Pune police is likely to question the Congress leader in connection with their investigation into the activities of the banned CPI(Maoist). Singh’s cellphone number was reportedly mentioned in one of the letters that the Pune police claimed to have seized from the arrested activists.
Accusing the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) of hatching a conspiracy against him, Singh told reporters, “The RSS and BJP are always trying to intimidate me. I am not scared. Act against me if you can. If my involvement in anti-national activities is proved, then Modi ji, Rajnath ji and Fadnavis ji can act against me and initiate proper action.”
He added, “The phone number that they are mentioning is available to everyone via the Rajya Sabha’s portal. I haven’t used it since the last four years.”
In the letter, dated September 25, 2017, one ‘Com Prakash’ purportedly tells one ‘Com Surendra’ that Congress leaders were “very much willing to assist” in their efforts to “intensify nationwide protests using students”. The letter allegedly mentions a cellphone number that ‘Com Surendra’ can contact “in this regard”. This is reportedly Singh’s cellphone number.
According to Pune police, ‘Com Surendra’ is a reference to Surendra Gadling, a Nagpur-based lawyer who was arrested in June. ‘Com Prakash’ is one of the top CPI(Maoist) commanders, said police.
The contents of the letter became public when the Pune police submitted it in court as evidence of the links between the arrested activists and the top Maoist leadership. At that time, Singh had dared the government to arrest him. “If I am guilty, I challenge the Centre and the state government to arrest me,” he was quoted as saying in Satna then.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Suhas Bavche told The Indian Express that the contents of that letter were under investigation, but refused to share further details.
Police sources, however, confirmed that the cellphone number was ascertained to be that of Singh, and he was likely to be questioned. They did not say how soon the questioning was likely to take place.
The Pune police have already arrested several prominent activists in this case, which started as an investigation into the alleged Maoist links to the Elgaar Parishad meeting on December 31 last year, where speeches and songs “provoked the masses” and “aggravated violence” at Koregaon Bhima the next day. One person was killed and several injured in that violence.
In June this year, Pune police arrested five activists, including Surendra Gadling and Nagpur-based professor Shoma Sen, and claimed to have recovered several incriminating documents from them, including a plan to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In August, Pune police moved to arrest five more activists in simultaneous multi-city raids, but the Supreme Court stepped in and put them under house arrest. With the exception of Gautam Navalakha, who got interim relief from the Bombay High Court, the others landed in the custody of Pune police after their house arrest got over.
Police have so far booked 22 persons in this case under sections of the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and IPC.