In this post, we shall not look into the details of the Bhima Koregaon incident. Also, let’s not talk about Stan Swamy or his recent passing away. Not even the fact that he spent most of his life entertaining the cries and the pleas of the weak – the very marginalized communities of Jharkhand.
Let us just ponder upon few basic questions…
Why didn’t the system – upon which Stan Swamy had rested his faith – grant him bail?
Is the Government not serious about rogue, miscreant activities? If they are, then why even 3 years after, the trial on the accused is not underway?
The trial on the 16 accused in the Bhima Koregaon case – or at least on the remaining 15 – has not yet started and why?
United Nations, European Union and the U.S.A have commented now after his unfortunate demise. Why give the international community a reason to comment on our internal affairs?
Stan Swamy was arrested in Oct, 2020 – 16th accused in the Bhima Koregaon case. At the time, he also created a new record – oldest person to be jailed under the UAPA. Earlier young, troublesome JNU students and now even elderly uncles are plotting against the nation? That is at least what’s alleged – Too bad!
Some propaganda material was collected, as well as evidence of his contacts with the others accused like Varavara Rao and Sudha Bharadwaj. The oldies were reportedly planning to fell the government; assassination of prime minister.
However, due to Parkinson’s disease, Stan Swamy’s condition deteriorated and grew worse by the day in the jail. At one pint, he couldn’t even drink water on his own and then he tested Covid positive – yet no bail on medical grounds still.
He found freedom not until recently when he sadly passed away.
The question is – will the government spring into action now or keep delaying the trial until the others like him too perish?
What is that evidence on whose basis no bail has been granted to the activists? In Jun, 2018 some leaks revealed that these activists were in touch with the Maoists. Even though the Maoists usually communicate in code language – these leaked letters however openly named the activists. Some youth leaders like Umar Khalid and Jignesh Mevani were also mentioned.
Meaning that what news anchors had predicted was true – intellectual urban naxals exist in real? Surely – Those human rights activists, opposition parties, Dalit activists and Muslim leaders – everyone conspiring!
First, activist Rona Wilson – whose laptop showed a plan for Rajiv Gandhi type incident – was arrested. This story stole media spotlight for several weeks obviously. High profile arrests of Sudha Bharadwaj – who had renounced US citizenship to serve workers, tribals in India – soon followed.
Like always, people supported the government fully. Though Sudha Bharadwaj claimed that evidences were fake, fabricated – an attempt to silence activists. But be it demonetization, GST, Petrol price or lockdown – public stood by the government’s side and would stand by it whenever in the future.
But, some questions over case’s stagnation have arisen. Why NIA didn’t question Stan Swamy even once after arrest? Sudha Bharadwaj has already spent three years in jail so why the trial procedure hasn’t gone underway? Is the investigation team not serious?
Compare this to Mumbai 26/11 attack…
India had to prove Pakistan’s involvement by identifying involved terrorists, gathering GPS data, hearing witnesses, hanging Kasab, etc. All of that was done within two years under complete judicial process. Even today India is praised for providing lawful, rightful route to the most brutal terrorist attacker then.
In this case, the international community is looking down upon us – no proper procedure – just rot in the jail, without trial.
Anand Teltumbde (70), Vernon Gonsalves (68), Gautam Navlakha (70), Shoma Sen (63), Sudha Bharadwaj (61) and Stan Swamy (84) – all senior citizens. If they have participated in what is being claimed – why the delay in trial?
Even though, in prime time news the trial is long over and even the judgment has been passed, without due process. Is that tolerable?
Apart from that, the case has attracted media attention for other reasons. Like, when Gautam Navlakha, human rights activist, was denied spectacles in Taloja jail. Or when Stan Swamy who had Parkinson’s requested for straw, sipper but didn’t get it, not until after outrage on social media and a month long debate.
Now, America has commented: We are saddened by Father Stan Swamy’s death. UN Human Rights stepped in to remind us human rights, saying: It is more urgent that India release every person detained without sufficient legal basis.
We have led this to happen – human rights activists, lawyers, writers, intellectuals behind the bars for so many years without trial should raise questions. Especially after custodial death of one. Justice A.P. Shah has written in The Hindu: “In Swamy’s case, the judges displayed apathy of a shocking order.”
Coming to what the defense has done… as the Bhima Koregaon accused had said time and time again that those mails weren’t written by any of them. So the defense lawyers communicated with Arsenal Consulting – Digital Forensics Services – who had also previously worked with the US government.
The foreign firm demanded email clone copies for the devices of Rona Wilson and Surendra Gadling to test them out in their headquarters in America. Arsenal first checked whether the copies delivered to them were original or not – by hash value matching – in other words, digital fingerprint verification.
They were genuine copies – they verified. Then, Arsenal spent as many as 300 hours analyzing the laptop’s contents. Their studies were published in The Washington Post, which reveal tampering. Rona Wilson’s laptop was compromised for over two years. Similarly in Surendra Gadling’s case – evidence was planted in his laptop as early as in Feb 2016.
The letters were planted by unidentified hacker on their computers by the help of malware remote access Trojan. In fact, the trojan was active until the Police arrived at their door later. Arsenal showed that the hacker had created letters using a version of MS Word which did not exist on Wilson’s computer.
Though NIA has denied hacking of laptops.
After these recent developments, the international press has started covering Bhima Koregaon case – There is no way to stop that from happening after custodial death of Stan Swamy. But the solution to Bhima Koregaon is one: Fast track trial.
Furthermore, let’s remember – Innocent until proven guilty. Not, guilty until proven innocent. Bail is a rule, jail is an exception. Not jail is a rule, bail is an exception. Dissent is not a crime. Not, it is a crime to dissent.