In 10,000-page charge sheet, NIA names 8 accused in Elgar Parishad case

One day after the arrest of activist Father Stan Swamy, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Friday submitted a supplementary charge sheet against eight persons accused of being connected to the Elgar Parishad case.

The seven charge-sheeted accused are—academic and activist Dr Anand Teltumbde, Gautam Navlakha, Hany Babu Musaliyarveetil Tharayil, three members of Kabir Kala Manch (Jyoti Raghoba Jagtap, Sagar Gorkhe, Ramesh Gaichor), and Father Stan Swamy. The eighth accused Milind Teltumbde, secretary of Maharashtra State Committee of the CPI (Maoist), is said to be on the run.

NIA has said it has reliable oral, documentary and material evidence that establishes the role of Navlakha, Anand Teltumbde, Hany Babu and others in the conspiracy to spread the activities of Maoists. The charge sheet against the eight activists runs into 10,000 pages.

After filing the charge sheet, special public prosecutor Prakash Shetty said, “A supplementary charge sheet has been submitted against eight accused. The registry will scrutinise it first and later further process will take place.”

NIA took over the probe from Maharashtra Police in January. Four months later, the agency arrested Teltumbde and Navlakha. they had to surrender before the agency as the Supreme Court refused to grant them any further protection and relief from arrest.

NIA, after the arrest, claimed that Teltumbde delivered a “provocative presentation” and speeches on December 31, 2017, during an event at Shaniwarwada in Pune, which led to the violence at Bhima-Koregaon in January 2018, statewide agitation and loss of life. NIA has alleged Teltumbde was the convenor of the programme and his call data records show he was in touch with the other arrested accused present at the event.

The agency also claimed that Navlakha, along with other activists, is accused of having links with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) and for his alleged involvement in the Elgar Parishad gathering.

Navlakha was first arrested by the Pune Police on August 28, 2018, but the Delhi high court had quashed his arrest on October 1, 2018. The prosecution had alleged that till August 2018 he was a member of CPI (Maoist).

While arresting Navlakha, Pune Police cited several letters recovered from the computer of one of the accused exchanged between them. It was alleged that Navlakha and some of the other activists (who have also been arrested in the case), had direct access to and communicated with central committee members and senior leaders of CPI (Maoist). Pune Police also alleged that Navlakha was part of the conspiracy and they were probing to check if there was a larger conspiracy of seizing political power via an armed revolution by mobilising the masses.

Navlakha surrendered before NIA on April 14 as no court granted him protection from the arrest.

After the arrest of Teltumbde and Navlakha, NIA made its first formal arrest—an associate professor in the Department of English with Delhi University—on July 28.

The agency claimed that Hany Babu had links with Communist Party of India (Maoist) and was one of the key conspirators. The prosecution also pointed out that there were letters exchanged between the accused which were recovered by Pune Police. The investigating agency found mention of his name and role in those letters. The agency also claimed that Babu was actively involved in raising funds to help Maoists, for their release from prison.

Two months later, the agency arrested three members of Kabir Kala munch—Jyoti Jagtap, Sagar Gorkhe and Ramesh Gaichor. Gorkhe and Gaichor were arrested on September 7 while Jagtap was arrested a day later. The agency, in a statement released after their arrest, claimed, “The three were propagating Naxal activities and Maoist ideology and were co-conspirators with other arrested accused. It has also a matter of record that the arrested accused persons were in contact with absconding accused Milind Teltumbde about the urban network of CPI (Maoist). Also it is established that during their (Kabir Kala Manch members) visits to the jungle, they underwent weapons and explosive training and awareness programmes on various topics related to Maoist movement.”

The latest arrest by the agency was that of Father Stan Swamy. Father Swamy, an 83-year-old activist suffering from Parkinsons was arrested from his residence in Ranchi. The officials claimed that “he is a member of CPI (Maoist) and is actively involved in its activities. He also received funds through an associate for furtherance of the CPI (Maoist) activities. He is the convenor of Persecuted Prisoners Solidarity Committee (PPSC), a frontal organisation of CPI (Maoist). The documents related to communications for furthering the activities of CPI (Maoist) and propaganda material of the CPI (Maoist) and literature were seized from his possession.”

On January 1, 2018, riots broke out in various parts of Pune district on the occasion of the 200th commemoration day of the Bhima-Koregaon battle in which the East India Company defeated the Peshawar with the help of Dalit soldiers. One person was killed in these riots.

According to the FIR registered at the Vishraumbaug police station on January 8, members of Kabir Kala Manch had allegedly made provocative speeches, sung and performed skits that led to violence at Bhima Koregaon on January 1, 2018.

The police had filed two charge sheets in the case and arrested nine accused—Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Rona Wilson, Sudhir Dhawale, Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Sudha Bharadwaj, Shoma Sen and Vernon Gonsalves. However, two years later (January this year), the probe was transferred to NIA.

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