The Pune Police have decided to seek help from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the domestic intelligence and security service of the US, to retrieve data from a damaged hard disk seized from the house of ‘Urban Naxal’ Varavara Rao, who is accused plotting to kill PM Modi and Elgar Parishad violence.
According to the reports, the hard disk, seized from Rao’s house during a raid in August 2018, was earlier sent to four forensic laboratories in the country. However, these laboratories failed to recover any data.
Reportedly, the hard disk was first sent to a Pune-based laboratory, where experts could not retrieve the data. Later, it was sent to the Mumbai-based Directorate of Forensic Science Laboratories, but experts there could not open it. Similar attempts were tried at Gujarat and Hyderabad based forensic labs, but no data could be recovered, an official said.
“Since labs of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are much advanced, the decision to send the hard disk there has been taken and necessary approvals have been given by the Union Home Ministry,” the official said.
The Pune police had arrested Varavara Rao from his Hyderabad residence on 17th November 2018 in connection with Bhima-Koregaon violence and plot to kill Prime Minister Modi.
Recently, the prosecution submitted a draft charge sheet against 19 accused, including nine self-proclaimed ‘activists’ including Varavara Rao, who have already been arrested in connection with the case. The nine ultra Left-leaning activists were arrested by the Pune Police in the case are – Varavara Rao, Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Shoma Sen, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and Sudha Bharadwaj.
In its draft charge sheet, the Maharashtra prosecution has included charges of “conspiracy to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi” against the 19 ‘Urban Naxals’ who are also accused in the Elgar Parishad case. The draft charges stated that all the 19 accused were conspiring to assassinate PM Narendra Modi during his roadshows in a manner similar to the killing of former PM Rajiv Gandhi.
On the 200 anniversary of the battle of Bhima-Koregaon on January 1 in 2018, a large number of people had gathered at the memorial near Pune. While the crowd was dispersing, violence erupted not only in Pune and surrounding areas but across the state. A 28-year-old youth, Rahul Patangale, was killed in the violence. 52 cases were registered and 152 people were arrested for violence and riots in the streets.
Following the incident, several raids were conducted in August 2018 against supposed Naxal sympathizers in connection with the violence at Bhima Koregaon and had unearthed an assassination plot to murder Prime Minister Modi.