The arrest of Telugu poet Varavara Rao in the December 2017 Elgaar Parishad case allegedly led to ‘cascading losses on several fronts’ for the banned CPI (Maoist), as per the contents of a ‘secret’ communication recovered by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) from one of the eight activists it recently charge-sheeted in the case, 83-year-old Father Stan Swamy from Jharkhand. The NIA charge sheet, which Mirror has accessed, said that it has collected “evidence” from the premises of another accused, Delhi University Professor Hany Babu, which revealed the “code/alias names” used by alleged CPI (Maoist) cadres for communication. These included Rao’s alleged codes, “VV/Chief Manyam Pituri.”
The NIA’s charge sheet is against Anand Teltumbde, Gautam Navlakha, Hany Babu, Sagar Gorkhe, Ramesh Gaichor, Jyoti Jagtap and Stan Swamy, who are under arrest, and Milind Teltumbde, who is absconding. It said Swamy was allegedly involved in the activities of the CPI (Moaist) outfit and was in touch with other case conspirators. It accused activist Gautam Navlakha of working in urban areas for Maoists and of being tasked with uniting intellectuals against government forces.
It said that Hany Babu was allegedly assigned “to complete urban activities of CPI (Maoist), was in contact with Paikhomba Meitei, secretary, information and publicity, military affairs, Kangleipak Communist Party (MC), a banned organisation under UAPA. “It was also under consideration to hand over the responsibility of APTs (appointments) of foreign journalists’ visits to CPI (Maoist) areas to Hany Babu and the party considered him to be a more reliable and secure channel for communication,” the charge sheet said.
It also accused Babu of raising funds to help CPI (Maoist) cadres released from prison, and termed Sagar Gorkhe, Ramesh Gaichor and Jyoti Jagtap “main conspirators” and active members of CPI (Maoist), working in urban areas through “front organisation Kabir Kala Manch”. The charge sheet said they visited Korchi forest and underwent weapons and explosives training in 2011-12, and that they took directions from absconding accused Milind Teltumbde. They made inroads into a programme of the Elgaar Parishad and “delivered hatred through street play/skit on the stage”.
Advocate Yug Chaudhry, who represents Navlakha and Hany Babu, told Mirror, “The NIA chargesheet accuses Mr Navlakha of going to the Maoist guerilla zone in Chhattisgarh. Well, he went there as part of an academic exercise to conduct interviews with Maoist and those interviews featured in two books that he published on the subject subsequently. Is that a crime? No, it’s not. Many other slanderous allegations have been made against him without any basis.”
Chaudhry added, “Hany Babu is accused of being a part of the committee for the legal defence of GN Saibaba, a DU professor. Hany Babu was a part of the committee, that’s an admitted position, but that is not an offence. It’s not an offence to arrange the legal defence even of a convicted terrorist, let alone that of a colleague.” Saibaba was earlier convicted for his alleged links with the Maoist movement.
No mention of ‘plot to assassinate PM Modi’
While it sought to establish a connection between the accused and the banned CPI (Maoist), the NIA’s 10,000-page charge sheet was silent on the Pune police’s earlier claim of a “plot to assassinate PM Modi”. The first charge sheet, filed by the Pune police in December 2018, had mentioned an email written by a certain ‘R’ to Comrade Prakash on April 18, 2017, talking of a “Rajiv Gandhi-type” operation.
Advocate Mihir Desai, representing Anand Teltumbde, said, “The claim [of there being a plot] to assassinate the PM has not been reiterated by the NIA, so what exactly are the allegations against these people? That their ideological views are different? The fact that they have found no evidence to mention anything about the alleged plot raises serious questions about their claim.”
An NIA source, however, said that allegations had already been put on record in court by the Pune police before NIA took over the probe in January. “NIA probe is a continuation of the Pune police’s probe. The assassination plot part was a charge that was part of the Pune police ‘s submissions to the court earlier and it is on record. So, NIA did not repeat the charge in its charge sheet,” the source said