Cops claim Maoist plot on PM

Maharashtra police, who have arrested five "suspected Maoists" in connection with the Koregaon violence, have cited purported letters seized from the house of one of them to claim a rebel plot to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

By Pheroze L. Vincent
  • Published 9.06.18
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One of the accused arrested by Pune police in the Bheema-Koregaon violence case being taken to the court in Pune on Thursday. (PTI)

New Delhi: Maharashtra police, who have arrested five "suspected Maoists" in connection with the Koregaon violence, have cited purported letters seized from the house of one of them to claim a rebel plot to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The letters mention "another Rajiv Gandhi-type incident" and pledge to "end Modi-raj"

Two former IPS officers, however, have picked holes in the police's claim.

The BJP has alleged that the Congress is working in tandem with Maoists to provoke Dalits, who had gathered in Bhima-Koregaon to commemorate the bicentenary of the battle that ended the rule of the Peshwas in Pune.

Special public prosecutor Ujjwala Pawar had, during a hearing in a Pune court on Thursday, claimed that a letter had been seized from the Delhi house of Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners spokesperson Rona Wilson, arrested along with four others in connection with the January 1 Bhima-Koregaon violence in which one person was killed.

Appearing for Maharashtra police, Pawar quoted from the letter, according to news agency ANI: "We are thinking along the lines of another Rajiv Gandhi-type incident. It sounds suicidal and there is a good chance that we might fail, but we feel that the party PB/CC (politburo/central committee) must deliberate over our proposal. Targeting his road shows could be an effective strategy."

According to Pawar, the letter, signed "R", was addressed to one "comrade Prakash".

The letter says, according to news agency PTI: "Defeating Hindu fascism has been our core agenda and a major concern for the party. Several leaders from secret cells as well as open organisations have raised this issue very strongly.

"Modi-led Hindu fascist regime is bulldozing its way into the lives of indigenous adivasis. In spite of big defeats like Bihar and West Bengal, Modi has successful established BJP government in more than 15 states.

"If this pace continues, then it would mean immense trouble for the party on all the fronts.

"Comrade Kisan and few other senior comrades have proposed concrete steps to end Modi-Raj."

In another letter submitted in court, also allegedly found in Wilson's home during the raid on April 17, PTI quoted Pawar as saying: "The higher committee has appreciated the endearing efforts of all urban comrades for the specific tasks given to them... there is a lot of ground to be covered. Comrade Mangalu and Deepu have been coordinating the Koregaon programme (for the) last two months with Comrade Sudhir."

According to the police, this letter was sent by Milind Teltumbde, suspected to be the Maharashtra CPI (Maoist) secretary, to Wilson.

Two former IPS officers with experience in probing cases related to anti-insurgency operations and extra-judicial killings have contested the police's claims of a Maoist plot.

Former Jharkhand director-general of police G.S. Rath, who dealt mainly with intelligence on Maoists from 2000 to 2013, told The Telegraph: "In my career, I never came across Maoists using original names in communications. They stuck to aliases.

"Central committee, central military commission and zonal military commission members used to use the Internet and email for communication, but switched to coded language after we started intercepting emails.

"They use hand-written notes only for political propaganda.... The threat of killing the PM may be an individual opinion of a member but it would have to be cleared by the politburo."

Former Gujarat additional DGP (intelligence), R.B. Sreekumar, who had testified before several probes into extra-judicial killings and the Gujarat riots, said: "These letters seem to be planted. Maoists never use real names. In Gujarat some 22 alleged terrorists, including Ishrat Jahan, were killed in fake encounters that were investigated by the Justice Bedi Commission.

"In every other case the police would say that they (the accused) were Lashkar-e-Toiba or Hizbul Mujahideen (operatives) and that they were trying to kill then CM (Narendra) Modi. After former DIG Vanzara was arrested, these killings stopped."

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra had on Thursday read out from the same letter that lawyer Pawar cited in court. According to Patra, the letter also mentioned "Jignesh" and "Umar" as "young fighters" and "Prakash Ambedkar" as a strong supporter of Maoists. All the names appear with the prefix "Com" or comrade.

Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani and JNU student leader Umar Khalid have been BJP bugbears. They had participated in the Bhima-Koregaon event. B.R. Ambedkar has a grandson named Prakash Ambedkar, who organised the Koregaon event.

Patra demanded an explanation from Congress president Rahul Gandhi, claiming that the letter had mentioned that senior Maoist leaders were in touch with the party.

In Jammu and Kashmir, Union home minister Rajnath Singh said on Friday that the government was serious about the security of Prime Minister Modi, responding to reports of an alleged Maoist assassination plot.

"We are always serious about the Prime Minister's security. The Maoists are fighting a losing battle," he told a news conference in Jammu.

The Congress countered the BJP's allegations.

Party communications chief Randeep Surjewala tweeted: "Terrorism, Naxalism & extremism are unacceptable. No one knows it better than the Congress, which sacrificed Mahatma Gandhi, Indiraji & Rajivji besides S. Beant Singh, Shuklaji and Nand Kumar Patel among others. A fair investigation, bereft of politics, is the need of the hour."

BJP veteran Arun Jaitley claimed there were four types of Maoists, the last category being what he called "half Maoists".

"Willingly or otherwise, they become over-ground face of the underground. They are a part of the democratic system. They masquerade as activist; they speak the language of democracy; they have captured the human rights movement in several parts of the country but always lend support to the Maoist cause. They are unwilling to condemn. Unfortunately some political parties see the Maoist as their instrument in the anti-NDA cause," Jaitley said of the "half-Maoists".