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Bhima Koregaon Accused Challenges NIA Court's Refusal To Allow Him To Join Family For Mother's Last Rites

Sharmeen Hakim
6 July 2021 5:04 PM GMT
Bhima Koregaon Accused Challenges NIA Courts Refusal To Allow Him To Join Family For Mothers Last Rites
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"It cannot be said that the presence of the applicant would be necessary for performing the funeral rites or rituals," NIA Court had said.

The Bombay High Court on Monday heard Bhima Koregaon- Elgar Parishad Case accused – Advocate Surendra Gadling's plea challenging the Special NIA Court's order refusing him temporary bail for his mother's last rites in 2020.A division bench of Justices SS Shinde and NJ Jamadar briefly heard Gadling's appeal filed under Section 21 (4) of the NIA Act and granted the NIA two weeks to file...

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The Bombay High Court on Monday heard Bhima Koregaon- Elgar Parishad Case accused – Advocate Surendra Gadling's plea challenging the Special NIA Court's order refusing him temporary bail for his mother's last rites in 2020.

A division bench of Justices SS Shinde and NJ Jamadar briefly heard Gadling's appeal filed under Section 21 (4) of the NIA Act and granted the NIA two weeks to file its response, if any. The bench said it would hear the matter on July 22, 2021.

Gadling was arrested three years ago, on June 6, 2018. Senior Advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for Gadling, along with Advocate R Sathyanarayanan, said much water had flown under the bridge in the past year, but certain rituals still remained to be performed.

She said the family intended to perform these rituals on Gadling's mother- Manjula's- first death anniversary, on August 15, 2020. Jaising sought permission to put details of all the rituals on record, which includes cooling the ashes.

Gadling sought permission to perform his mother's last rites on August 17, 2020 two days after she succumbed to Covid-19. NIA opposed the application in September, arguing that three weeks had already passed and he is booked under serious offences of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Gadling faces charges under sections 121, 121A, 124A, 153A, 505(1)(b), 117, 120b r/w 34 of the IPC and sections 13,16,17,18,18-B,20,38,39 and 40 of the UAPA along with 14 other activists. Father Stan Swamy, the 16th accused to be arrested, passed away on Monday.

Special NIA Judge DE Kothalikar rejected the application on September 11, 2021, a month after his mother's demise, accepting NIA's submissions. "Considering this aspect it cannot be said that the presence of the applicant would be necessary for performing the funeral rites or rituals," the judge said in his order.

In response, Gadling's lawyer Sathyanarayanan's submitted that a family meeting amongst the relatives, was scheduled on September 21. However, the Court said documents were not produced on record to substantiate his contentions.

Before the Bombay High Court, in a plea filed nearly a year ago, Gadling said the trial court's order is erroneous. He said, "Right to life is one of the most fundamental rights guaranteed to every citizen even if he is in prison."

"Even if the Appellant is Accused of serious crimes and further he is an undertrial prisoner his basic human rights cannot be suspended," he has said.

Gadling claimed that the judge failed to consider that he is incarcerated for the past 2 years (3 years today), not allowing him to share his grief with his family members only affects his mental condition.

He added that even his brother had not been able to attend his mother's funeral as the latter had tested positive.

The plea for temporary bail will now be heard on July 22, 2021.

Malware on Gadling's Laptop, Claims Forensic Firm in US

In its third report related to planting of incriminating material against those accused in the Bhima Koregaon case, Arsenal Consulting, a Massachusetts-based digital forensics firm, investigated 14 documents from a clone copy of Gadling's hard disk.

According to the report dated June 18, 2021, Gadling's computer was compromised for over 20 months by the same cyber attacker named in the forensic firms first two reports.

The attacker made three attempts at compromising Gadling's computer via email, sending him identical malware (packaged differently) on February 12, February 18. Ultimately on February 29, 2016, the malware 'Netwire' was executed, the report states.

"The attacker responsible for compromising Mr. Gadling's computer had extensive resources (including time) and it is obvious that their primary goals were surveillance and incriminating document delivery."

The agency says that the same attacker has not just targeted the accused in the Bhima Koregaon Case, but those in other cases in India.

"Arsenal has connected the same attacker To a significant malware infrastructure that was deployed over the course of approximately four years to not only attack and compromise Mr Gadling's computer but also attack his co-defendants in the Bhima Koregaon Case and the defendants in other high profile Indian cases as well."

The digital forensic firm's first report is already before the High Court in two petitions filed by co-accused Rona Wilson and professor Shoma Sen. The present report is also likely to be placed before the court, for consideration.

Bhima Koregaon Case

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 back then.

The hundreds of people visiting the war memorial at Bhima Koregaon were attacked on January 1, 2018, after violence erupted. They were mainly from the Dalit community, and one died in the stone-pelting.

An FIR was registered regarding the violence the same day. 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 resulted from 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 earlier.

The 15 people accused in the case are as follows — 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.

Most of the accused in the case were neither named in the FIR over the violence nor present during the 2017 event.



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