In a major development in the Elgar Parishad case, the Pune police, on Thursday, have sought help of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to retrieve data from the damaged hard disk in possession of accused activist Varavara Rao's possession, according to ANI. A team of forensic experts and police will soon be flying to the US after attempts in Indian labs reportedly failed. The drive was seized in August 2018 from a desktop during a search of the activist's Hyderabad home.
Bhima Koregaon violence case: Pune police to take help of the US based Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to retrieve data from damaged hard disc recovered from Varavara Rao's house, an accused in the case. A team of India's forensic experts&police will soon travel to the USA.— ANI (@ANI) December 26, 2019
Meanwhile, on December 18, draft charges have been framed against the nineteen accused including the nine activists - Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Shoma Sen, Arun Ferriera, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Varavara Rao by the police. The draft charges include 'conspiracy to assassinate PM Narendra Modi', 'overthrow the government', 'waging war against the Government of India' under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). The draft charges also state that some of the arrested are active members of the banned CPI (Maoists) party. If convicted under 'waging war against India' faces the death sentence or imprisonment for life, as per IPC section 121.
Three days after the draft charges were filed, NCP chief Sharad Pawar demanded a Special Investigation Team (SIT) probe into the police action against activists in the Elgar Parishad case. Mentioning that no conjecture should be drawn from the literature seized from the accused people, he contended that an independent investigation was required claiming that a retired judge should head the SIT. Former CM Devendra Fadnavis has slammed this statement saying some of them had been put behind bars for their "Maoist links" when the Congress-NCP coalition government was in power in 2007.
In the Elgar Parishad case, Pune police booked activists Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira, and Vernon Gonsalves, Surendra Gadling, Sudhir Dhawale and P Varavara Rao for allegedly inciting the Bhima Koregoan violence through their speech at the Elgar Parishad meeting on December 31, 2017, under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). They are also being probed for having alleged Naxal links in organising the Parishad. The ensuing violence on January 1, 2018, had resulted in the death of one person and several others had been injured. Currently, all accused are in jail after their bail pleas were rejected.