Doubts raised on Pune police’s PM assassination claim against Dalit activists

Jignesh Mewani (extreme left), Radhika Vemula (second from right), and Omar Khalid (right) during the ‘Elgar Parishad’ at Shanivarwada  

A day after Pune police said it had unravelled a plot to assassinate the PM, the case appears to be collapsing. The leaked letters have been questioned by even the police who have handled Maoist cases

A day after Pune Police told a court that it had unravelled a plot to assassinate the Prime Minister, the case appears to be collapsing. The leaked letters on the basis of which police made the allegation have been questioned by even retired police officers with experience of handling Maoist communication.

The five Ambedkarite activists arrested by Pune Police for their alleged role in violence unleashed on January 1 at Bhima-Koregaon near Pune have been implicated in the plot.

On twitter people pointed out that this is the sixth such plot alleged by the media and the police since 2014:

This is the first time that a national political party has been accused by police to be involved in funding the underground Maoists, that too based on a questionable letter. It is dangerous and calls for a probe.

Another letter based on which Pune Police has accused five activists including a poet, a lawyer and a Professor of English of plotting the assassination of the Prime Minister also appears wild and far fetched.

They are unlikely to get bail for three months and have been remanded to police custody for a week. The case is crying for an independent probe for the following reasons:

  1. The police had filed an FIR against the activists in January and raided their houses in April. It is inconceivable that even if they were involved in a conspiracy, they would have preserved the evidence till June.
  2. That the conspiracy is established by none of the Intelligence agencies but by the state police does not appear credible.
  3. The letter itself, had it been genuine, would have used aliases, code words etc. and not real names.
  4. Former police officers who have experience of analysing Maoist communication have gone on record to rubbish the letter.
  5. Narendra Modi and the Gujarat Police, when Modi was the Cm of Gujarat, would make similar allegations of plots to assassinate him every now and then. Even after 2014 this is the at least fifth or the sixth time that the allegation has been made.
  6. The leak of these so-called letters to select media houses and BJP’s IT Cell have also raised question marks.
  7. The police claim that urban Naxals were behind the Bhima Koregaon violence near Pune on January 1 appears a second thought after the lapse of so many months.
  8. The Union Minister of Social Justice (state) and a veteran Dalit leader of Maharashtra, Ramdas Athawale, has asked the government not to victimise Ambedkarite activists in the name of Maoists.
  9. The clumsy attempt to link Prakash Ambedkar to the conspiracy also appears suspect.

Nihal Singh, an Advocate in Nagpur, associated with the Human Rights Law Network, says that the displayed letter allegedly seems to be the handiwork of the police. “We often see cases in courts, read their charge sheets, in which the police present such letters too. These letters give understanding of the way the Maoists work,” said Singh

According to Nihal Singh, Maoists do not take the names of their cadre or sympathisers directly. “They have separate nick names for their cadres. As in Sai Baba’s charge sheet, the police say that his nick name is ‘Prakash’. For the letters written in the name of Prakash, the police claimed that these are the letters written for Sai Baba or by Sai Baba,” added Singh.

Nihal Singh questions that, “When the Maoist party writes the nick name of Sai Baba while discussing general issues, how can it or any cadre write the original name of the people arrested on such big issues- as Rona Wilson, Shoma Sen or Surendra Gadling and Sudhir Dhawle, Jignesh Mewani or Prakash Ambedkar etc. ?

According to the Ambedkarites of Nagpur the mention of Prakash Ambedkar, the grandson of Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar also raises questions on its authenticity. Many Ambedkarites talked on the condition of anonymity to avoid being targeted by the police and said that ‘the government and political organisations are also defaming the family of Baba Saheb for their politics, while everyone knows that Baba Saheb's grandson, Prakash Ambedkar, is a leader of the Republican Party, not the naxalites.

Nihal Singh raises questions on the arrest of Advocate Gadling and says that ‘he has been a human rights advocate, he has been fighting against illegal custody until now, but sadly he was presented before the Magistrate after two days in contrary to the rule that it is mandatory to produce an accused to nearest magistrate within 24 hours of his arrest. A lawyer representing even criminals does not become a criminal himself, then how does the defendant of those people charged with involvement in Naxal activities be arrested in the name of Maoists?”

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