The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has submitted a list of seventeen draft charges against the accused in the Bhima Koregaon case.
These charges include waging of war against the Government of India, which is punishable by death.
The charges, however, do not mention a plot to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi – as had been claimed by the Pune Police in 2018. All it mentions at one place is “an attempt to do or cause death of public functionary”.
The accused in the case include:
Jyoti Raghoba Jagtap
Sagar Tatyaram Gorkhe
Ramesh Murlidhar Gaichor
Father Stan Swamy, another accused in this case, passed away in July, awaiting bail.
WHAT ARE THE CHARGES?
The accused have been charged in the draft under the following sections of the Indian Penal Code:
121: Waging, or attempting to wage war, or abetting waging of war, against the Government of India.
121-A: Overawe the government by means of criminal force
153-A: Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence.
120B: Punishment of criminal conspiracy
505(1)(B): Intent to cause or likely to cause fear or alarm among the public
They have also been accused of committing offences under multiple sections of the stringent UAPA.
WHAT ELSE IS THE NIA ALLEGING?
The draft charges allege that the accused are members of the banned CPI (Maoist) and its 'front organisations', “whose main object is to establish Janata Sarkar i.e. people's Government via revolution supported by a commitment to protracted Armed struggle to undermine and to seize power from the State".
The NIA has claimed that the Elgar Parishad event in Pune on 31 December 2017 was organised “to exploit the communal sentiments of Dalit and other classes across the state and provoked them in the name of caste to create violence, instability, and chaos in Pune at various places, including Bhima Koregaon, and in the state of Maharashtra”.
Further, they alleged that the accused:
“…abetted and assisted in the commission of Unlawful Activities with intent to threaten the Unity, Integrity, Security and Sovereignty of India with intent to strike terror in the people, any section of the people in India and in the State of Maharashtra by using explosive substance like logistics, wires, nails, nitrate powder, and possessing and transporting sophisticated weapons like Chinese QLZ 87 Automatic Grenade Launcher and Russian GM-94 Grenade Launcher and M-4 with 4,00,000 rounds… (sic)”
The NIA claimed that this, “by its very nature”, was likely to cause “death or injury to any person or persons, or loss of, or damage to, or destruction of property, and was an attempt to do or cause death of public functionary.”
BUT, NO MENTION OF PLOT TO ASSASSINATE PM
Even though the Pune Police had cited an email written by a certain ‘R’ about a ‘Rajiv Gandhi-type’ operation, neither does the NIA’s 10,000 page charge sheet nor do these latest draft charges mention any plot to assassinate PM Narendra Modi. All that the NIA mentions is “an attempt to cause death of public functionary”.
Meanwhile, The Indian Express, cited an NIA official as claiming that the draft charges do not delve into specific allegations and the evidence pertaining to this will be be made part during the trial.
The special NIA court will base it’s decision on the IPC and UAPA offences under which the accused will be tried on these draft charges.
The NIA’s case against the accused is based mainly on letters purportedly retrieved from the computers of accused researcher Rona Wilson and co-accused advocate Surendra Gadling.
However, earlier in February, Wilson approached the Bombay High Court to quash the case against him after a digital forensics consulting company found that his computer had been infected with a malware, called NetWire, and all incriminating evidence against him had been planted on it during the two years prior to his arrest.
Later, in July, another probe by an American forensic agency concluded that evidence was 'planted' on Gadling’s computer, as well.
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