The National Investigation Agency on Monday opposed the bail plea filed by tribal rights activist Stan Swamy, and alleged that the 83-year-old was part of the alleged conspiracy to instigate violence in 2017, PTI reported. Swamy was arrested on October 8 in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case.
The NIA, in an affidavit filed through special public prosecutor Prakash Shetty in a special court, claimed that it had sufficient evidence to prima facie prove that the accused was involved in the “deep-rooted conspiracy”. It alleged that Swamy was also directly involved in the Maoists’ movement.
The central agency claimed a similar case had been filed against Swamy in the past in Jharkhand, his home state. The NIA was still probing the emails and other digital evidence gathered by its investigators from Swamy’s computer and therefore, releasing the jesuit priest on bail was not possible, the agency said.
The special NIA court will hear the bail application on December 21. On the same day, the court will also hear other applications filed by Swamy seeking directions to the NIA to return his bag, seized by the agency at the time of his arrest, and to also get clone copies of the data retrieved from his laptop’s hard disk.
During the hearing on Monday, Swamy’s counsel – Sudeep Pasbola and Sharif Shaikh – told the court that a huge amount of data was collected from the activist at the time of his arrest. Yet, the amount of data cloned and provided to him was only eight terabytes, reported The Indian Express.
The special public prosecutor, however, denied this, saying the agency had taken only relevant data from Swamy’s hard drive and had given a copy of the same to him.
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Swamy’s counsel further informed the court of the reply received from the jail authorities on the possibility that he may be transferred to another prison. On December 4, Swamy had moved a plea seeking the opportunity to be heard before a decision was taken to transfer him. The activist submitted that any such transfer should be done only after intimating the court and giving him an opportunity to argue in the matter.
The advocates told the court that the Taloja jail authorities have informed them that Swamy may have to be shifted to a better-equipped prison due to his health ailments and age. They reiterated that any such decision can only be made if the court allowed it.
Swamy is among a group of social activists, lawyers and academicians who have been in jail under the anti-terrorism law, the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, facing charges of participating in a Maoist conspiracy to overthrow the government and assassinate the prime minister. The police claims the conspiracy extended to fomenting anti-government sentiments at the Elgar Parishad, an event organised by Dalit and human rights organisations in Pune in western Maharashtra, leading to the eruption of caste-based riots between Maratha and Dalit groups near Bhima Koregaon village on January 1, 2018.
In his bail plea, Swamy had said that he was being targeted by the NIA due to the nature of his writings and the work he did, over the years, to address the caste-based land struggles, and the violation of democratic rights of the marginalised citizens of India.