Bhima Koregaon: NIA Court grants temporary bail to Rona Wilson to attend father’s funeral rites

Many activists like Wilson have been jailed for more than two years without trial under a stringent anti-terrorism law, UAPA.

Rona Wilson

Ronal Wilson, one of the 16 accused in the 2018 Bhima Koergaon violence, case has been granted temporary bail by NIA Court to attend a function slated to be organised in connection with his father’s death.

Wilson was arrested in July 2018 and is presently in judicial custody for offences under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Wilson submitted in his application that his father expired on August 18, 2021 in Kerala and was buried on August 19, 2021.

As per custom, a function has been organised for the 30th day ritual at a church in Kerala on September 16, 2021.

Advocate Neeraj appearing for Wilson prayed for bail on humane consideration so that he is at liberty to meet his family members and participate in the “mass” organised by his family.
Wilson had prayed for an interim bail of 2 weeks from September 13, 2021.

NIA opposed the application, submitting that the family prayer for the death of Wilson’s father could be done by Wilson’s brother and other family members too.

“The applicant/accused presence indeed does not necessitates neither it is proved by the applicant/accused that the gathering/ ceremony will not be or cannot be carried in his absence, as such no relief is called for,” NIA replied.

Special Public Prosecutor Prakash Shetty argued that the final rites were already over hence Wilson was merely creating a ground for release and may carry out illicit activity or tamper with prosecution evidence.

Evidence Planted in Bima Koregaon Accused Computers

More than a dozen activists have been targeted in the Bhima Koregaon investigation. They include Wilson, a Delhi-based activist, as well as a labor lawyer, a prominent academic, a poet and a priest. All are advocates for the rights of India’s most underprivileged communities, including tribal peoples and Dalits, formerly known as “untouchables.”

Father Stan Swamy died in jail while waiting for trail in the Bhima Koregaon case. Stan Swamy and all the other 13 arrested in this case are also outspoken opponents of Modi’s government. They have denied the charges, which accuse them of working with a banned Maoist militant group to wage an insurgency against the Indian state.

The initial accusations against the activists rested heavily on incriminating letters recovered from electronic devices, particularly from Wilson’s laptop.

Also Read: Rona Wilson: Fighting for Political Prisoners

The most explosive allegation came from a letter that police said Wilson had written to a Maoist militant in which Wilson discussed the need for guns and ammunition and urged the banned group to assassinate Modi. Arsenal Consulting found that the letter — along with at least nine others — had been planted in a hidden folder on Wilson’s computer by an unidentified attacker who used malware to control and spy on the laptop.

According to a forensic report by Arsenal Consulting, a Massachusetts-based digital forensics firm, this key evidence was planted on a laptop seized by police. This has furthered the suspicions that the government is using technology to malign and silence and harass whosoever doesn’t agree with government policies and are critical of PM Modi.

The Arsenal report findings were published in The Washington Post in February 2021. The National Investigation has dismissed the report and refused to cooperate with the digital forensics company.

According to a report from Arsenal Consulting, that examined an electronic copy of the laptop at the request of Wilson’s lawyers, the attacker used malware to infiltrate a laptop belonging to one of the activists, Rona Wilson, before his arrest and deposited at least 10 incriminating letters on the computer,

Many of the activists have been jailed for more than two years without trial under a stringent anti-terrorism law. Human rights groups and legal experts consider the case an attempt to suppress dissent in India, where government critics have faced intimidation, harassment and arrest during Modi’s tenure.

Sudeep Pasbola, a lawyer representing Wilson, said the Arsenal report proved his client’s innocence and “destabilizes” the prosecution case against the activists.


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April 2024


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