The Pune Police have purportedly found mention of Congress leader Digvijaya Singh’s mobile number in the letters they seized as evidence while arresting activists in the Bhima Koregaon case, The Indian Express reported. While Pune Deputy Commissioner of Police Suhas Bavche did not identify anyone by name, he said that they are investigating the phone numbers mentioned in the seized letters.
Unidentified police officials told the newspaper and India Today that the number mentioned in the seized letters belonged to Singh.
Singh downplayed the reports about him being linked to the case. “The phone number they are mentioning is available to everyone via the Rajya Sabha’s portal,” the Congress leader told ANI. “I have not used it for the last four years. If I am involved in any kind of anti-national activities then [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi ji, [Home Minister] Rajnath Singh and [Maharashtra Chief Minister] Fadnavis ji can take action against me.”
On June 6, the Pune Police had arrested five activists – Rona Wilson, Sudhir Dhawale, Mahesh Raut, professor Shoma Sen, and lawyer Surendra Gadling – under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The arrests were made over a month after raids at their homes and offices in connection with an event to commemorate the Battle of Bhima Koregaon on December 31 and the caste-related violence that broke out at the site and near Pune in Maharashtra on January 1.
The reports linking Singh to the case quoted a letter dated September 25, 2017. “Com Prakash”, is quoted informing “Com Surendra” that Congress leaders were “very much willing to assist” in their efforts to “intensify nationwide protests using students”. The writer reportedly informed “Com Surendra” to call a cellphone number, purportedly Singh’s cellphone number, “in this regard”.
Unidentified police officials said “Com Surendra” refers to Gadling and “Com Prakash” is a reference to a leader of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist).
The police had earlier claimed the activists were involved in the Elgar Parishad event in Pune that was followed by caste-related violence in Bhima Koregaon on January 1 this year. On August 28, the police had arrested five more activists – Sudha Bharadwaj, Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira and Gautam Navlakha – on similar allegations. On Saturday, Varavara Rao was taken into custody in Hyderabad after his house arrest ended and his petition to quash the transit remand was disposed of by a court. He was remanded to police custody November 26. The police claimed Rao had helped Maoists buy arms from suppliers in Nepal and Manipur, and was involved in funding “urban Naxal” activities.
On November 15, the police had filed a chargesheet, accusing one of the arrested activists, Rona Wilson, of plotting to kill the prime minister. Dhawale, Raut, Gadling, and Shoma Sen were also named in the chargesheet.