The three Kabir Kala Manch artistes arrested in the Elgar Parishad case were denied bail as material on record suggested that they hatched a “serious conspiracy” along with members of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) to overthrow the Modi government, a special National Investigation Agency court in Mumbai claimed in its order on Thursday, PTI reported.

The case pertains to caste violence in a village near Pune in 2018. As many as 16 people were arrested for allegedly plotting the violence.

Special Judge DE Kothalikar denied bail to Kabir Kala Manch’s members Sagar Gorkhe, Ramesh Gaichor and Jyoti Jagtap on Monday. They have been jailed since September 2020.

The judge, in his order made available on Thursday, claimed that the three accused persons wanted to “create unrest in the entire country”.

Referring to letters and documents placed on record, the judge said that Gorkhe, Gaichor and Jagtap were members of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) and undertaking activities to promote the organisation’s objective, which he alleged was “nothing but to overthrow democracy of the nation”.

The judge added, “The contents of the aforesaid letter prima facie speaks that the CPI (Maoist) was bent upon ending the Modi­ raj, that is the Modi-led government. Not only this, they were also thinking to go for another incident, like the death of Rajiv Gandhi, by targeting the road shows of Modi.”

Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was killed in Sriperumbudur near Chennai, on May 21, 1991, when an operative of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam detonated her RDX-laden belt.

The judge claimed that the bail applications of Kabir Kala Manch members were rejected as they were likely to threaten the unity, integrity, security and sovereignty of India.

Kabir Kala Manch was one of the 250 Dalit and human rights organisations that organised the Elgar Parishad, an event that took place in Pune city on December 31, 2017, a day before violent clashes broke out between Maratha and Dalit groups near the village of Koregaon Bhima in Pune district.

While Dalit groups and individuals have accused Hindutva leaders Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide of instigating the violence through hate speeches before the incident, the focus of the National Investigation Agency has been on the Elgar Parishad event being part of a larger Maoist conspiracy to stoke caste violence, destabilise the Central government and assassinate the prime minister.

The Centre had transferred the case to the National Investigation Agency in January 2020.

In February last year, a United States-based digital forensics company, Arsenal Consulting, had stated that an attacker used malware to infiltrate the laptop of activist Rona Wilson, who is one of the accused persons in the case. The attacker deposited at least 10 incriminating letters on it.

Among these was a letter that the police claimed Wilson had written to a Maoist militant, discussing the need for guns and ammunition as part of an intricate Maoist conspiracy, and even urging the banned group to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The report found the letters had been planted in a hidden folder on Wilson’s laptop.

On February 10 this year, The Washington Post had reported that Wilson had been targeted by two separate groups of hackers before he was arrested.

The report did not identify the perpetrator of the cyberattack, but it noted that Wilson was not the only victim. The same attacker deployed some of the same servers and IP addresses to target other accused in the case over a period of four years, it stated.