The National Investigation Agency has claimed to have found direct links between those arrested in the Bhima Koregaon case and the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), The Wire reported on Tuesday. The agency made the claims in its chargesheet that runs more than 10,000 pages. It was filed before a Mumbai special court on October 9.

This is the first chargesheet filed by the NIA, which took over the investigation in January. The Pune Police had earlier filed two chargesheets in connection with the Elgar Parishad case against the activists.

Several activists and academics have been accused of making inflammatory speeches at the Elgar Parishad conclave held at Shaniwar Wada in Pune on December 31, 2017, which the authorities claim triggered violence at Bhima-Koregaon war memorial the next day. Eight people who have been named in the NIA chargesheet are former IIT professor Anand Teltumbde, his brother Milind Teltumbde, activist-journalist Gautam Navlakha, Delhi University associate professor Hany Babu, three members of the cultural group Kabir Kala Manch and Jesuit priest and human rights activist Stan Swamy. Of them, Milind Teltumbde has been named as an absconding accused and top operative of CPI (Maoist) in the chargesheet.

The NIA alleged that Anand Teltumbde attended international conferences “under the guise of… academic visits abroad” and brought back Maoist literature and videos. They agency also claimed that those literature and videos were shown to CPI (Maoist) members.

“Anand Teltumbde used to attend international conferences under the guise of his academic visits abroad viz Philippines, Peru, Turkey, and other countries and used to bring Maoist literature and videos (in pen drive/ memory cards) related to their ideology, tactics, weapons used by them, period of attacks, planning of sudden attacks in spite of routine Tactical Counter Offensive Campaign during Naxal weeks, extension of zones and increasing members of recruitment for CPI (Maoist) organisation.”

— NIA chargesheet

The chargesheet, citing statements of witnesses, claimed that Teltumbde made a statement during a meeting to “reinvent Dalit militancy as well as revolutionary resurgence under Maoist leadership”. Teltumbde has denied all the charges and said that his visits abroad were through official invitations and well-documented.

The NIA has claimed that Milind Teltumbde visited various cities and took guidance from his elder brother “to advance the movement of CPI (Maoist) in jungle as well as urban areas”. The agency added that Milind Teltumbde used to discuss about the Elgar Parishad event with three Kabir Kala Manch members — Sagar Gorkhe, Ramesh Gaichor and Jyoti Jagtap. It alleged that the event’s platform was used for spreading Maoist ideology.

The investigating agency said a witness told them Navlakha wrote books on Maoists and visited jungles along with a Swedish writer. “Gautam Navlakha always speaks of Left-oriented politics and had done fact-finding to further the ideology of CPI (Maoist), so he was a sympathiser of Maoists,” the NIA, quoting the witness, said.

The chargesheet claimed Swamy was given the responsibility of the banned organisation since most party members were arrested. “Stan Swamy is having his own identity,” it added. “Stan Swamy is having his own NGO at Jharkhand.”

About Hany Babu, the NIA cited witnesses to allege that he and another accused, Rona Wilson, were “instrumental in arranging meetings and funds in support of GN Saibaba”. The chargesheet also includes a statement by a witness claiming that he “had heard about Umar Khalid” being an urban party member, reported The Indian Express.

“Rona and Hany Babu have inculcated Maoist sympathies in the students in Delhi and more specifically Dalit and students coming from other oppressed backgrounds.”

— NIA chargesheet quoting a witness.

The case

Violence broke out between Dalits and Marathas in the village of Bhima Koregaon near Pune on January 1, 2018. This came a day after an event in Pune called the Elgar Parishad was organised to commemorate the Battle of Bhima Koregaon in 1818 in which the Dalit Mahar soldiers fighting for the British Army defeated the Brahmin Peshwa rulers of the Maratha empire. One person died in violence during a bandh called by Dalit outfits on January 2.

The Pune Police raided several activists in April 2018, followed by two rounds of arrests that targeted 10 activists.

The first chargesheet was filed by the Pune Police in November, 2018, which ran to over 5,000 pages.It had named activists Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut, all of whom were arrested in June, 2018. The police had claimed that those arrested had “active links” with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), and accused activists of plotting to kill the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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

The Centre transferred the case to the NIA in January after the Bharatiya Janata Party government led by Devendra Fadnavis in Maharashtra was defeated. A coalition government of the Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party and Congress came to power in the state in November 2019.