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Thursday, February 25, 2021

Delhi Police probing Muluk’s presence in Tikri on R-Day

Police sources said they believe Shantanu Muluk came to Delhi to take videos and photos of the protest site and use it for the toolkit. On Tuesday, Muluk, an engineer from Maharastra's Beed, was granted transit anticipatory bail in the case.

Written by Jignasa Sinha | New Delhi |
Updated: February 17, 2021 7:45:44 am
Delhi Police probing Muluk’s presence in Tikri on R-DayOn January 26, a tractor rally held by the protesters had turned violent with a mob storming Red Fort, leading to the arrest last week of Punjabi actor Deep Sidhu in that case. (Express file photo)

DELHI POLICE officers probing the toolkit posted on Twitter by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg on the farmers’ protest are tracking records that allegedly point to the presence of one of their suspects, Shantanu Muluk, at the protest site in Tikri on the Delhi border on January 26, The Indian Express has learnt.

Police sources said they believe Muluk came to Delhi to take videos and photos of the protest site and use it for the toolkit. On Tuesday, Muluk, an engineer from Maharastra’s Beed, was granted transit anticipatory bail in the case.

“With the help of call detail records and other technical surveillance, we have come to know that Shantanu was at the farmers’ protest site in Tikri on January 26. He was in Delhi for around a week,” a senior officer told The Indian Express.

Asked about the police claim, advocate Satej Jadhav, who represented Muluk before the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court that granted him relief, told The Indian Express: “I have no idea whether he was present there…he was supporting the farmers’ protests through online platforms only.”

On January 26, a tractor rally held by the protesters had turned violent with a mob storming Red Fort, leading to the arrest last week of Punjabi actor Deep Sidhu in that case.

On Sunday, Delhi Police recorded its first arrest in the toolkit case by taking into custody 22-year-old Disha Ravi, an activist from Bengaluru, triggering outrage and allegations that they had violated procedures.

On Tuesday, speaking at the 74th Raising Day Ceremony at Police Lines, Delhi Police Commissioner S N Shrivastava said: “She was arrested as per the investigation and following all due procedures. The law doesn’t differentiate between a 22-year-old and a 50-year-old. We produced her before the metropolitan magistrate who granted five days of police custody. People who are saying that there are lapses in the arrest or unlawfulness… are absolutely wrong.”

Disha, one of the founders of Fridays For Future India, was picked up from her house in Bengaluru on Saturday and “formally” arrested in Delhi. On Monday, Prem Nath, Joint CP (Cyber Unit), said that an SHO from a police station in Bengaluru was informed about the Delhi Police’s arrival and was present at the time of arrest.

“We acted against Disha because she had deleted a WhatsApp group which she created to coordinate among various members. Her arrest was made in the presence of her mother and local SHO. Due procedure was adopted in arresting her and a medical test was conducted before presenting her before the court on Sunday,” said JCP Nath. Disha has denied the charges in court.

According to police, Disha was one of the editors of the toolkit and sent it to Thunberg via the messaging app Telegram on February 3. JCP Nath said the toolkit was created to “tarnish India’s image”. Disha told court that she had made only a couple of edits in the document.

Police chief Shrivastava said: “The January 26 violence was a conspiracy. Police showed intelligence and restraint…violence was averted. The conspiracy was to spread rumours, fake news and instigate riots. When the toolkit was discovered, the police registered a case and are conducting the investigation.”

Asked on what basis police were linking the toolkit to pro-Khalistani groups, he said, “At this stage, I can’t comment… We are at an initial stage of the investigation. Many people are being questioned for their role in the violence.”

According to police, Disha and Mumbai lawyer Nikita Jacob were the editors of the toolkit while an email account created by Muluk was the admin of the Google document.

A senior police officer told The Indian Express: “The document was meant for activists and some influencers. Greta accidentally put it online. After the document was out in public, Disha feared she would get in trouble and requested Greta to delete it. We have examined their chats and confirmed this.”

According to police, Greta deleted the toolkit and was then given an edited version which she posted on Twitter after a few hours.

Police sources claimed that one of the edits made was the “removal” of US activist Pieter Friedrich’s name. “We suspect this was done because creators of the toolkit felt using his name as a resource in the document could lead to trouble. We have come to know that at least four people edited this document on several occasions in January,” the senior officer said.

On Monday, Special Cell (DCP) Manishi Chandra had said that Friedrich has been on the radar of the security establishment since late 2006. “He was noticed in the company of Bhajan Singh Bhinder who has been a very leading proponent of the K2 (Kashmir Khalistan) desk of ISI,” the DCP said.

Friedrich had, however, told The Indian Express that he has “co-authored two books with Bhajan Singh”. “Had I ever seen him even hint at support for Khalistan, I would have run the other way — but he didn’t,” he said.

The Delhi Police have also written to Zoom to get details of the participants of an alleged meeting between members of the “pro-Khalistan” Poetic Justice Foundation, and Muluk and Jacob, on January 11. Police sources said they are also planning to write to WhatsApp to get details of the group that was allegedly created in December by Disha and her associates.

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