NIA files Chargesheet in Bhima Koregaon Case: Accused persons wanted to “wage a war against the nation”

The National Investigating Agency (NIA) on Monday filed draft charges against 15 accused persons in the Bhima Koregaon case of 2018.

The NIA in its draft charges submitted before a special court here in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case has claimed the accused persons wanted to establish their own government and “wage a war against the nation”.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) submitted this draft earlier this month, and a copy of it was made available on Monday.

The draft lays down 17 charges against 15 accused, including human rights and civil liberties activists, and they have been sought to be charged under various sections of the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The accused named as absconders are Milind Teltumbde aliases Dipak and Sahyadri of Yavatmal, Prakash Goswami aliases Navin and Ritupan Goswami of Assam, Kishan Bose aliases Prashanto of Kolkata, Mupalla Laxman Rao, alias Ganpati, Chandrashekhar, Manglu, and Deepu.
The NIA said that all the accused are ‘active members of the banned terrorist organization CPI (Maoist) and its frontal organizations which were declared unlawful by the Union Home Ministry in 2009.

The frontal organizations listed by the NIA are Kabir Kala Manch (which organized the Elgar Parishad at Pune on December 31, 2017, the alleged fallout of which were the caste riots in Koregaon-Bhima on January 1, 2018), Anuradha Ghandy Memorial Committee, Persecuted Prisoners Solidarity Committee, Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights, Peoples Union for Democratic Rights, Coordination of Democratic Rights Organisation, Democratic Students Union, Visthapan Virodhi Jan Vikas Andolan, and Revolutionary Writers Association.

The NIA has alleged that the accused persons were active members of the banned terror outfit CPI (Maoist). The arrested accused include activists Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves, Varavara Rao, Hany Babu, Anand Teltumbde, Shoma Sen, Gautam Navlakha, and others.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has claimed students of reputed institutes like Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) were recruited to carry out terrorist activities in the country.
"The accused recruited students from various universities, including the Jawaharlal Nehru University and Tata Institute of Social Science for commission of terrorist activity," it said in the draft, a copy of which was made available on Monday.

As per the draft charges, the main objective of the accused persons was to establish a “Jantana Sarkar (people’s government) through revolution and armed struggle to seize power from the State”.

The draft also claimed that the accused attempted to “wage war against the Governments of India and Maharashtra”. Framing of charges is the first step before trial commences in the case where the prosecution describes the charges against the accused along with the evidence to be relied upon.

After framing charges, the court will ask the accused whether they plead guilty or not in the case. The draft further claimed the accused played provocative songs, enacting short plays and skits in Pune during the Elgar Parishad meeting, and distributing Naxal literature.

“That the criminal conspiracy was an intention to bring about the secession of a part of the territory of India and incite individuals to bring about such a secession,” it said.

It further alleged that the accused had an intent to strike terror in the minds of people by using explosive substances.

“That accused recruited students from various universities including the Jawaharlal Nehru University and Tata Institute of Social Science for a commission of terrorist activity,” it claimed.

The accused have been charged under Indian Penal Code Sections 120-B (conspiracy), 115 (abetment of offense), 121, 121-A (waging war against the state), 124-A (sedition), 153-A (arms in procession), 505(1)(B) (statements promoting mischief) and 34 (common intention).

They have also been charged under UAPA Sections 13, 16, 17, 18, 18A, 18B, 20 (punishment for terrorist activities), 38, 39, and 40 (punishment for being part of a terrorist organization).

The Elgar Parishad case is related to inflammatory speeches made at a conclave held in Pune on December 31, 2017, which, the police claimed, triggered violence the next day near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial located on the outskirts of the western Maharashtra city.

The Pune police, which had conducted the initial investigation in the case, had in its proposed draft charges said the weapons were linked to a conspiracy to “assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi”.

Accused Rona Wilson has approached the Bombay High Court citing a report stating that the “incriminating evidence” seized from his electronic device was planted through malware two years before his arrest in 2018.

The draft also mentions Father Stan Swamy, who died while in custody last month. The case against him has been abated. It also mentions six accused who are absconding. Besides waging a war against the country, charges include sedition, promoting enmity between groups, criminal conspiracy, and relevant sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

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