The Maoist letters have reached the media before they could make it to court as evidence.
The Pune police released a ‘sinister’ letter that speaks of a plot to carry out a Rajiv Gandhi-like assassination by so-called ‘urban Naxals’ in the media today.
About two days ago, Times Now had got hold of another letter that elaborated on a fantastical ‘urban Naxal’ nexus involving everyone from Umar Khalid to Jignesh Mewani to “friends in Congress”. There’s even talk of an “international meeting to honor the invitations from Swedish delegates at London”. Darn these Naxali tentacles spreading far and wide.
These letters were recovered in police raids conducted in April and have found their way to the media before they even made it to the court.
The defence lawyers of the accused in the case have not seen these ‘incriminating letters’ that the Pune police says is the centrepiece of their investigation against ‘urban maoists’. Speaking to Newslaundry, lawyer Susan Abraham says the letters are “cooked up”. But let’s not go by what she’s saying, it is after all her job to defend the accused.
In the court, on Thursday, the police filed a remand report explaining why the accused — Rona Wilson, Sudhir Dhawale, Mahesh Raut, Surendra Gadling and Shoma Sen — should be remanded to jail for 14 days. Newslaundry has accessed the remand report in which the police elaborates the grounds on which they want to continue to investigate the accused.
One would imagine that one of the top-most priorities for the police would be to investigate the accused because of a ‘plot to kill the Prime Minister’. But no. The remand report does not mention this plot, neither does it mention the letters specifically. It is curious that while public prosecutor Ujjwala Pawar read out excerpts from the letter that speak of ‘Rajiv Gandhi-type incident’, this finds no mention in the remand report.
The report simply states that the police believes that Wilson, Gadling and other accused are members of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoists) because of certain documents and evidences the police found during its investigation. It is not clarified what exactly these documents are.
It also states that Maoists funded the Elgar Parishad event to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the battle of Bhima-Koregaon this year. The report states that the accused are trying to divide society along caste lines, mislead gullible Dalits and Tribals and carry out anti-state activities. The police says it wants to investigate the funding, bank details of the accused and whether there are other organisations associated with them. It also says that in their communication, the accused have used highly coded language which the police needs to decipher. (We sure hope these codes are more complicated than “We are thinking along the lines of another Rajiv Gandhi type incident”.)
Note that the letters in question were seized in April from Wilson’s laptop during a raid. If the police found documents that pointed to a plot to kill the PM almost two months ago, shouldn’t it have recorded this fact in the court?
Speaking to Newslaundry, Pune Joint Commissioner of Police Ravindra Kadam said the letters “will go to court with chargesheet only after due investigation”.
So, essentially these letters have somehow found their way to the media without ‘due investigation’.
This obviously hasn’t stopped the media from lapping it up without even the slightest of scepticism. Because it’s not like the police would plant evidence. That’s never happened before.
“PM Modi assassination plot exposed” is the headline of the day and of course the letter is “exclusive” to many.
‘It sounds suicidal’
The letter being flashed on all the channels that talks of an assassination plot is addressed to one ‘Comrade Prakash’ and is written by one “R”. Kadam says that Prakash here is not to be confused with Prakash Ambedkar, leader of Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh, but an underground Maoist activist.
It isn’t clear if this is an email in Wilson’s inbox or a letter saved on his laptop. The letter speaks of the need for Rs 8 crore for annual “supply of M4’s with 400000 rounds”. (AK47s are so passé.)
The bit that has made headlines states.
“We are thinking along the lines of another Rajiv Gandhi type incident. It sounds suicidal and there is a good chance that we might fail but we feel that the party PB/CC must deliberate over our proposal…”
So, we are to believe that so-called Maoists just shoot off letters to each other that casually talk about assassination plots and the need for guns? No use of highly-coded language here. Moreover, they go ahead and save such letters on their laptops so that it’s easy for the police to raid them at a future date and collect it as evidence.
Another letter addressed to Rona is written by “Com. M”, which stands for Milind Teltumbde, a top Maoist operative who carries a reward of about Rs 50 lakh on his head.
This letter is dated Jan 2, 2018 and in the first line itself speaks of an upcoming event on December 6. This letter speaks of Comrade Manglu and Comrade Deepu — we don’t know who they are — who have apparently been “coordinating the Koregaon programme since two months”. It speaks of young fighter Comrade Umar who is ably supported by Comrade Prakash Ambedkar. It also says “senior comrades from CPI(Maoists) urban leadership have had prior talks with our friends in Congress who suggested to continue dalit mobilisation…” There is also talk of funding and legal help using a certain Jignesh as an intermediary.
This letter that is supposedly written by a wanted Maoist speaks of a nexus that involves people like Prakash Ambedkar and even possibly members of India’s grand old party! Again, this was supposedly seized a month and a half ago, yet the police has not summoned people mentioned in the letter.
In fact, what the police has not been able to do, Times Now did with speedy enthusiasm. The channel’s anchor Anand Narasimhan called up Prakash Ambedkar and simply asked him if he was a Maoist. Meanwhile, it is left to regional dailies like Sakaal Times to raise questions on the authenticity of the letter.
Speaking to Newslaundry, Sakaal Times reporter Prateek Goyal says, “First of all, Maoists or Naxals never address each other saying Lal Johar; it is always Lal Salam. [The letter to Rona from to Teltumbde begins with the salutation ‘Lal Johar’.]”
Goyal adds: “The letter, which is supposedly from a top Maoist mentions names of many social activists and Leftist leaders with abandon. Why would somebody from such an organisation whose survival depends on secrecy do that? The timing of the letter is suspicious for two reasons. One, they have turned the tables to make public believe that Koregaon Bhima violence was Left-sponsored. Secondly, we will see general elections next year and such a letter and the media attention around it will definitely percolate into public conscious.”
Update: Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar has also questioned the letter’s authenticity. It is noteworthy that Pawar’s nephew, Abhijit Pawar, and daughter Supriya Sule are on the board of directors of the Pune-based Sakal Media Group. While Abhijit is the managing director, Sule is listed as one of the directors.