Pune police Thursday named five rights activists and lawyers among ten “active members” of the banned CPI (Maoist) who allegedly organised a meeting of the Elgaar Parishad on December 31 last year where speeches and songs “provoked the masses” and “aggravated violence” at Koregaon Bhima the next day.
In a more than 5,000-page chargesheet — it’s in Marathi and was filed before special judge K D Vadane through district government pleader Ujjwala Pawar — police named Mumbai writer-activist Sudhir Dhawale, Nagpur lawyer Surendra Gadling, Nagpur university professor Shoma Sen, Delhi activist Rona Wilson and a former fellow of the Prime Minister Rural Development programme, Mahesh Raut.
The chargesheet, which also named Milind Teltumbde, Prakash alias Ritupan Goswami, Manglu, Deepu and Kishan alias Prashanto Bose as Maoist operatives on the run, stated that “accused Rona Wilson and Kishan alias Prashanto Bose, secretary of ERB of CPI (Maoist), and other underground operatives hatched a conspiracy to kill the Prime Minister of India and also participated in the process of procurement of huge arms and ammunition as a part of the larger conspiracy of waging a war against the democratic system and Indian citizens”.
According to the chargesheet, “a letter between Rona Wilson and Ritupan Goswami, seized by police, reveals that accused Mahesh Raut recruited two students from the Mumbai-based Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) into the banned Maoist group and sent them to the guerilla zone for training of underground armed Maoist work in jungles”.
“It shows that Raut is a an active member of the banned CPI (Maoist) and that the outfit is involved in motivating the youths and recruiting them for party work,” it stated.
The Maoist outfit, the chargesheet stated, gave Rs 5 lakh to Dhawale, Sen and Gadling through Raut for keeping the Koregaon Bhima agitation “burning at a time it was settling down”.
Police have so far booked 22 people in this case including five rights activists and lawyers Sudha Bharadwaj, P Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira and Gautam Navlakha who were arrested on August 28. Police claim they are part of “the larger conspiracy” of the CPI (Maoist) to form a an”Anti Fascist Front” to overthrow the government.
These five were placed under house arrest for five weeks on the directions of the Supreme Court on September 28. Bharadwaj, Gonsalves and Ferreira were later arrested by police and are in judicial custody. Varavara Rao’s house arrest has been extended by three weeks. Navlakha and another activist, Anand Teltumbde moved Bombay High Court, saying their names should be dropped from the FIR. The High Court has extended the interim relief granted to them until the next hearing on November 21.
The chargesheet stated that the CPI (Maoist) played an active role in the activities between December 31, 2017 and January 3, 2018 related to the Koregaon Bhima incident, leading to caste clashes and violence. It stated that “in a coordinated manner, the accused persons contacted various Dalit organisations, carried out a hate campaign against the government by distorting history and spreading falsehoods about the Koregaon Bhima battle”.
On the chargesheet, investigating officer ACP Shivaji Pawar said: “Our investigation has revealed that the Elgaar Parishad and previous campaigning for it aggravated the violence at Koregaon Bhima. The Elgaar Parishad and the campaigns leading to it were inspired by, directed by and funded by members of the banned CPI (Maoist) organisation.”
“The probe has revealed the role of some of them regarding procurement of arms and ammunition for terror acts, funding by the CPI (Maoist) and mobilisation for Elgaar Parishad. Absconding accused Milind Teltumbde has been coordinating the urban network of the CPI (Maoist) and has played a role in Dalit mobilisation. We have included statements of around 80 witnesses and the chargesheet has 5,160 pages. We have even taken the statement of recently surrendered Maoist leader Pahad Singh,” Pawar said.