The Pune Police on Monday submitted to a local court two new alleged emails exchanged between Communist Party of India (Maoist) leader Ganapathy and Varavara Rao as evidence, PTI reported. The court was hearing the bail petitions of five activists arrested in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence.
Opposing their bail plea, public prosecutor Ujjwala Pawar alleged that the emails were exchanged after the arrests of Surendra Gadling, Shoma Sen, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira and Sudha Bharadwaj. While Gadling and Sen were arrested in June, the other three, along with Rao, were held after raids in August and are currently under house arrest.
The content of the emails showed that top CPI(Maoist) Central Committee leaders were concerned about the arrests of the activists, Pawar told Sessions Judge KD Vadane. She claimed that the outfit was worried about how law enforcement agencies had got access to their “confidential material” during the raids and seizures in June, according to The Indian Express.
“The CC [Central Committee] has received a news-clip of some communication that was leaked immediately after the arrests. The point of great concern is how exactly the letters were leaked and how the letters got in the hands of police,” Pawar quoted one of the emails as saying. “We need to put efforts to understand the full scale of this breach and the methods of the intelligence agencies.” Ganapathy wrote the email to Rao and allegedly asked him to ensure confidentiality of the communication channel, said Pawar.
Ganapathy allegedly also asked Rao to “submit a report” assessing the damage from the arrests carried out in June 6, said Pawar. In a response sent on July 14, Rao allegedly promised to send a detailed report and emphasised the need to maintain “extreme caution” in view of the “blanket raids”.
However, this new material was “unverified”, “not signed by anyone” and “made no sense”, said the defence lawyers. “There is nothing more than unverified letters with the police,” said lawyer Ragini Ahuja, representing Bharadwaj. “Let the police first verify these letters, but during this time, interim protection [in the form of bail] should be given to my client.” She also observed that the new emails did not mention Bharadwaj.
Along with Bharadwaj and Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Gautam Navlakha and Rao were also arrested as part of the Pune Police’s investigation into violence between Marathas and Dalits during the Bhima Koregaon event in January. While the initial outcry focused on the role of Hindutva groups, the subsequent police probe turned to activists working with Dalits, Adivasis and political prisoners. The police claimed the speeches made at the Elgaar Parishad, a public meeting held ahead of the January 1 event, sparked the violence.
The police earlier had produced 13 letters recovered from the arrested activists, allegedly written to and received from Maoist handlers. The defence claims the material is “cooked up”.