9 March 2021 3:44 AM GMT
The National Investigating Agency has said that former IIT professor and academic, Anand Teltumbde, an accused in the Bhima Koregaon-Elgaar Parishad case, inspired his brother, a wanted Maoist leader, to join the movement and shared "banned literature" from his international conferences with him. Even though the two brothers have led entirely separate lives, Teltumbde as a professor...
Even though the two brothers have led entirely separate lives, Teltumbde as a professor at IIT-Kharagpur and later at the Goa Institute of Management, and Milind as an alleged Maoist leader carrying a bounty of Rs 50 lakh, the agency has said that Milind used literature from Teltumbde's conferences to expand the banned organisations movements in urban areas.
Milind Teltumbde is alleged to be the Secretary of the (Maharashtra-Madhya Pradesh-Chhattisgarh) unit of the banned CPI(M).
NIA made these claims in its reply filed to oppose Teltumbde's bail application before a Special NIA court. Teltumbde, who was arrested by the NIA on April 14, last year, after he surrendered before the agency, following Supreme Court orders and applied for bail on merits in the Special NIA Court on January 13, 2021, said that he hasn't been in contact with his brother for the past 25 years.
In his bail application, first after the agency filed a charge sheet against him and seven others last October, Teltumbde states that statements of two protected witnesses used to make these allegations against him are "prima facie tutored with a desperate attempt to corroborate the prosecution's case."
The NIA has claimed that Teltumbde is an active member of the banned CPI (Maoists) and was "deeply involved in furtherance of its agenda."
Teltumbde has said in his bail application that he is critical of Maoist ideology. And at no point have these witnesses ever seen him or interacted with him. Moreover, their statements were hearsay. "Infact even the present accused (Teltumbde) was not in contact with Milind Teltumde for past 25 years."
In their reply, NIA has reiterated allegations against Teltumbde, accusing him of being the Convenor of the Elgaar Parishad conference held on December 31, 2017, that ultimately led to violence at Bhima Koregaon the following day, which claimed the life of one person.
The probe into the violence was expanded to allege a conspiracy to assassinate the Prime Minister and overthrow democracy in the country.
The NIA cited a letter written by 'Prakash' to 'Anand,' recovered from co-accused Rona Wilson's laptop. The letter allegedly mentions "Anand's visit to Paris for Human Rights Convention to be held on April 9 and 10, 2018 and lectures on Dalit issues in order to give traction to domestic chaos."
"During this period domestic chaos related to Dalit issues was only the Koregaon-Bhima incident. The letter ended with exhortations to their intellectual comrades to keep the fire ablaze," the reply reads.
Teltumbde has said in his bail application that the document was recovered from Wilson's computer and there was no corroboration to show he even received the letter or it was acted upon. And while he did attend a conference in Paris, there was proof to show the organisers paid for the visit. Infact, the organisers also complained to the French embassy regarding the allegations levelled against the University.
Ten such controversial documents that mention a conspiracy to assassinate the Prime Minister and overthrow the government, which form the heart of the investigation against the 16 academics, lawyers and human rights activists accused in the case came under a cloud of suspicion last month, after a digital forensics consulting company in the USA concluded that they were planted.
Arsenal Consulting said Wilson's computer was infected with a malware, called NetWire (available for $10 online), which was planted through an email on June 13, 2016, two years before Wilson's arrest on Jun 6, 2018.
Wilson has approached the Bombay High Court seeking formation of an SIT to investigate planting of these documents.
Teltumbde's bail application will now be argued on March 12.
The Bhima Koregaon battle was fought between 25,000 mighty Peshwa army and 500 British soldiers including people from the Mahar (Dalit) community. The names of martyrs in the war are inscribed in the memorial by the British Army then.
The hundreds of people visiting the war memorial at Bhima Koregaon were attacked on January 1, 2018, after violence erupted. They were mostly from Dalit community and one died in the stone-pelting.
An FIR was registered regarding the violence the same day. However, three years since no charge sheet has been filed in the case.
Another FIR by right wing activist Tushar Damgude, filed on January 8, 2018 and was pursued. The houses of several activists, including Rona Wilson's and advocate Surendra Gadling were searched on April 17, 2018. It was alleged that the violence at Bhima Koregaon was a result of inflammatory speeches held at the Elgaar Parishad conference, on December 31, 2017.
The scope of the investigation was eventually widened, with the Pune police claiming retrieval of incriminating documents in the form of electronic records. This included an email written by a certain 'R' to Comrade Prakash on April 18, 2017 talking of a "Rajiv Gandhi-type" operation. The email was part of the documents investigated by Arsenal.
So far, 16 people have been arrested in the case as accused — Jyoti Raghoba Jagtap, Sagar Tatyaram Gorkhe, Ramesh Murlidhar Gaichor, Sudhir Dhawale, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Shoma Sen, Rona Wilson, Arun Ferreira, Sudha Bharadwaj, Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves, Anand Teltumbde, Gautam Navlakha, Hany Babu and Father Stan Swamy.
Most of the accused in the case were neither named in the FIR over the violence nor present during the 2017 event.