The Pune police on Thursday filed a supplementary chargesheet against four human rights activists, poet Varavara Rao, lawyer Arun Ferreira, and human rights activists Vernon Gonsalves and Sudha Bharadwaj. They were among five arrested on August 28 in the Bhima Koregaon case. Delhi-based activist Gautam Navlakha, who was also initially arrested in August before receiving protection from the Delhi High Court, is not named in this chargesheet. The police added Communist Party of India (Maoist) leader Ganapathy to the list of accused in the case, taking the total to 23.
The supplementary chargesheet was filed just before the 90-day extension granted to it by a special court on November 26 ran out. It broadly follows the lines of the first chargesheet filed on November 15 against anti-caste activist Sudhir Dhawale, human rights lawyer Surendra Gadling, Forest Rights Act activist Mahesh Raut, retired English professor Shoma Sen and human rights activist Rona Wilson, an activist with the Committee for Release of Political Prisoners, all of whom were arrested in June.
Scroll.in has accessed a six-page summary of the supplementary chargesheet, which for the most part brings little new information to the case. According to the Pune police, the nine arrested people are all members or supporters of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) who used frontal organisations such as the Kabir Kala Manch to incite resentment and hatred against the government.
As with the initial chargesheet, the supplementary one also skims past how a meeting of Ambedkarites at the Elgaar Parishad a day before the 200th anniversary of the battle of Bhima Koregaon on December 31 led to caste violence against them the next day, but dwells on how the accused allegedly plotted to destabilise the government. There is no mention of any conspiracy to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Little fresh information
The chargesheet emphasises the role Varavara Rao is alleged to have played in supporting the activities of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist).
The first few sections of the summary outlines the alleged roles of the first five to have been arrested, saying that they had used the Kabir Kala Manch, allegedly a frontal organisation for the Communist Party of India (Maoist), to organise a large gathering of several Dalit groups at the Elgaar Parishad. Incendiary speeches and songs at this event, the supplementary chargesheet repeats, is what led to violence at Bhima Koregaon the next day. According to this chargesheet, during their investigations in June, the Pune police claim to have found that the four arrested in August were also involved in the alleged plot to destabilise the country.
The most specific allegations in this chargesheet are against the Hyderabad-based poet Rao, who has over 45 years been charged with being actively involved with the Maoists in 25 cases, and acquitted in all.
The supplementary chargesheet alleges that Rao is a senior member of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) and conspired with Wilson and Prashanto Bose, secretary of the Eastern Regional Bureau of the banned party, to purchase ammunition from Basanta, a senior member of Nepal’s Maoist organisation. This was hinted at in the letters leaked by the Pune police to the media in 2018, well before any chargesheet was filed. It is not clear how this alleged ammunition purchase can be linked to the violence at Bhima Koregaon. Those who attended the Bhima Koregaon commemoration in 2018 said that they had been attacked by stones pelted at them from rooftops.
In the only mention of Ganapathy, the senior Communist Party of India (Maoist) member added to the list of accused, the supplementary chargesheet alleges that Rao was in contact with him. It claims that Rao was responsible for raising and distributing funds for the party. Rao and Nagpur-based lawyer Surendra Gadling both allegedly aided the banned party’s members by passing on information about security forces. This information, the chargesheet claims, has led to the loss of lives of people in the security forces. The summary does not specify when or where these alleged deaths occurred.
The supplementary chargesheet adds that Rao is the president of the Revolutionary Democratic Front, an organisation banned by the unbifurcated Andhra Pradesh government in 2012, which continued to be banned by the new Telangana government in 2014. It adds that GN Saibaba, a former Delhi University professor convicted by a sessions court in March 2017, was a secretary of this organisation.
The other three arrested in August are all active members of the Maoist party and incited youth through their alleged frontal organisations, to join the Maoist party, the supplementary chargesheet claims. Gonsalves, Ferreira and Bharadwaj allegedly assisted Rao, Wilson and Gadling and other members of the Maoist party’s politburo in their plot to violently overthrow the government by passing on messages and planning meetings, the supplementary chargesheet claims.