Activist Anand Teltumbde, who is an accused person in the Bhima Koregaon case, used to visit foreign countries to spread the ideology of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), the National Investigation Agency told a Mumbai court on Wednesday, PTI reported.

“He [Teltumbde] used to attend international conferences under the guise of his academic visits to Canada, Pakistan, USA, France etc,” the investigative agency alleged, according to Bar and Bench. “In the said conferences, he used to exchange literature on ideology, training and working strategy of CPI(Maoist) with international communist organisations.”

The agency made the submission in response to a bail plea filed by Teltumbde in the Bhima Koregaon case, which pertains to caste violence in a village near Pune in 2018. Sixteen people, including Teltumbde, were arrested for allegedly plotting the violence.

Teltumbe is a noted writer of several books. He has worked as a senior professor at the Goa Institute of management.

In his plea, Teltumbde had contented that the National Investigation Agency has failed to produce any evidence before the court to show that he is a member of the Communist Party of India (Maoist).

At Wednesday’s hearing, the central agency also accused Teltumbde of bringing back materials related to Maoist ideology from Philipinnes, Peru, Turkey and other countries.

It said the materials were used for training and strategic development of the CPI (Maoist) members after the outfit’s central committee in India approved it.

“There is evidence on record about the allocation of Rs 10 lakh from the end of CPI (Maoist) to Anand [Teltumbde] for his international campaign and visits for the furtherance of the CPI (Maoist) agenda,” the central probe agency claimed, according to PTI.

In its reply, the agency also reiterated its claim about Teltumbe being the convenor of the Elgaar Parishad conference held on December 31, 2017 that led to Bhima Koregaon violence the next day. It also said that Anand Teltumbde had inspired his brother Milind Teltumbde to join the Maoist movement.

The Bhima Koregaon case

The first chargesheet in the case was filed by the Pune Police in November 2018, which ran over 5,000 pages. It named activists Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Shoma Sen and Mahesh Raut – all of whom were arrested in June 2018.

The police claimed that they had “active links” with CPI (Maoist), and accused the activists of plotting to kill Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

One of the accused, 84-year-old tribal rights activist Stan Swamy, died in custody in July. Swamy, who suffered from Parkinson’s disease and also contracted the coronavirus infection while in prison, was repeatedly denied bail despite his deteriorating health condition.

A supplementary chargesheet was filed later in February 2019, against Sudha Bharadwaj, Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and banned CPI (Maoist) leader Ganapathy. The accused persons were charged with “waging war against the nation” and spreading the CPI (Maoist) ideology, besides creating caste conflicts and hatred in the society.

The Centre transferred the case to the National Investigation Agency in January 2020 after the Bharatiya Janata Party government in Maharashtra, led by Devendra Fadnavis, was defeated.

The continued imprisonment of activists and academicians in the Bhima Koregaon case based on allegedly flimsy evidence has been criticised by members of civil society.

In February last year, a United States-based digital forensics firm had found that at least 10 incriminating letters were planted on the Wilson’s laptop. In July, it emerged that evidence was also planted on Gadling’s computer.