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Report Release: In the Name of Development / Snooping on Civil Society

Report Release: In the Name of Development / Snooping on Civil Society

Poster by bakeryprasad

India Trains Its Sights on Dissent in Chhattisgarh – Snooping on Civil Society

28/10/2022

Voelkerrechtsblog / by Allison West

Development in the form of profit-driven resource exploitation ventures in India’s central state of Chhattisgarh, led by corporations and facilitated by the state, have wreaked havoc on the lives and livelihoods of the region’s indigenous Adivasi peoples. In the face of widespread dispossession, corporate land grabs, environmental degradation and militarized policing in Chhattisgarh, Adivasi activists and organized civil society play a vital role in monitoring, documenting and challenging ongoing human rights violations on the ground…
In 2020, Amnesty International and Citizen Lab uncovered a coordinated spyware campaign targeting nine human rights defenders in India, including several active in Chhattisgarh. Between January and October 2019, the targets received spearphishing emails with malicious links that, if opened, would have installed NetWire, a commercially manufactured Windows spyware that monitors a user’s actions and communications..
The common link between the human rights defenders targeted in the NetWire attack seemed to be a record of speaking out on behalf of those imprisoned in the 2018 Bhima Koregaon Case.
Read more


Report Release: In the Name of Development – Indigenous Rights Violations and Shrinking Space in Chhattisgarh

03/11/2022

By India Justice Project & ECCHR

The report presents insights into the ongoing assault by the Indian state and powerful corporations on the indigenous peoples of the country through a case study of Chhattisgarh. In particular, the report highlights the legal and institutional means through which powerful state, military and corporate actors appropriate land and shrink space for Adivasi rights and resistance in Chhattisgarh.
Read full report (PDF, 72 pages)


Also read:
DISINHERITING ADIVASIS – THE GADCHIROLI GAME PLAN (KAFILA / June 2018)
Mining In Gadchiroli – Building A Castle Of Injustices (Countercurrents / June 2017)

Supreme Court ticks off govt on seizure of personal devices

Supreme Court ticks off govt on seizure of personal devices

The Telegraph / by R. Balaji

SC frowns on government’s cavalier dismissal of a PIL’s demand for guidelines on ‘seizure, examination and preservation’ of such gadgets
The Supreme Court on Friday said electronic devices seized by investigating agencies “have personal contents and we have to protect this”, frowning on the Centre’s cavalier dismissal of a PIL’s demand for guidelines on the “seizure, examination and preservation” of such devices.
… several accused in the Elgaar Parishad-Maoist links case have said — with support from forensic analysts — that false “evidence” was planted on their devices after their seizure by investigators.
Read more


Also read:
Despite the Evidence, Courts Yet to Take Note of Spyware Used Against Elgar Parishad Accused (The Wire / July 2022)
Police Linked to Hacking Campaign to Frame Indian Activists (Wired.com / June 2022)

Despite the Evidence, Courts Yet to Take Note of Spyware Used Against Elgar Parishad Accused

Despite the Evidence, Courts Yet to Take Note of Spyware Used Against Elgar Parishad Accused

The Wire / by Sukanya Shantha

The evidence of malware use has now come in from multiple studies, but the accused remain in jail and the trial is yet to begin.
It has been a year since The Wire, along with 16 other international media organisations – all part of the Pegasus Project – reported how at least eight activists, lawyers and academics arrested for their supposed role in the Elgar Parishad case were on the leaked database as probable Pegasus targets. Besides the accused persons, their family members, lawyers, associated activists and, in some cases, minor children too appeared on the list.
Read more


Also read:
Police Linked to Hacking Campaign to Frame Indian Activists (Wired.com / June 2022)
Leaked Data Shows Surveillance Net in Elgar Parishad Case May Have Crossed a Line (The Wire / July 2021)

Why did India´s media ignore Wired story on plice planting evidence against Bhima Koregaon activists?

Why did India´s media ignore Wired story on plice planting evidence against Bhima Koregaon activists?

Newslaundry / by Kalpana Sharma

News is always “breaking” and stories are sometimes “broken”. But then you also have important stories that are “broken” but are quickly forgotten. Not always deliberately, although sometimes that is the case. Quite often because there is just too much news breaking all around us, genuine and fake. As a result, many important stories that need to be followed up are relegated to the archives.
… But first to an important investigative story that got barely reported in the Indian media.
I refer to the remarkable story broken by the Wired magazine on June 16. Headlined “Police linked to hacking campaign to frame Indian activists”, the story describes in some detail how the Indian police were able to plant evidence on the computers of some activists that ultimately led to their arrest.
Read more


Also read:
Police Linked to Hacking Campaign to Frame Indian Activists (Wired.com / June 2022)
The unravelling of a conspiracy: were the 16 charged with plotting to kill India’s prime minister framed? (The Guardian / Aug 2021)
Explainer: Arsenal Report on Surendra Gadling (The Leaflet / July 2021)
They were Accused of plotting to overthrow the Modi government – The evidence was planted, a new report says (Washington Post / Feb 2021)

After New Bhima Koregaon Revelations, Bombay High Court Can and Must Act

After New Bhima Koregaon Revelations, Bombay High Court Can and Must Act

After New Bhima Koregaon Revelations, Bombay High Court Can and Must Act

18/06/2022

The Quint / by Vakasha Sachdev

The assessment of these damning revelations can’t wait till trial, HC should set up a commission of inquiry.
In September 2018, when the Bhima Koregaon case was still in its infancy and the Maharashtra Police were trying to arrest the second set of activists (including Sudha Bharadwaj and Gautam Navlakha), Justice DY Chandrachud of the Supreme Court had said:
“Circumstances have been drawn to our notice to cast a cloud on whether the Maharashtra police has in the present case acted as fair and impartial investigating agency. Sufficient material has been placed before the Court bearing on the need to have an independent investigation.”
Read more


Bhima Koregaon Case: New Report Ties Pune Police With ‘Fabricated Evidence’

17/06/2022

The Quint / by The Quint

Independent investigations seem to suggest that the evidence in the case may just been very corrupt.
“We generally don’t tell people who targeted them, but I’m kind of tired of watching… These guys are not going after terrorists. They’re going after human rights defenders and journalists. And it’s not right,” an unnamed security analyst told American magazine WIRED.
Read more


Also read:
● Police Linked to Hacking Campaign to Frame Indian Activists (Wired / June 16, 2022)

Police Linked to Hacking Campaign to Frame Indian Activists / Report links cop to hacking bid on Bhima accused

Police Linked to Hacking Campaign to Frame Indian Activists / Report links cop to hacking bid on Bhima accused


Cartoon by PenPencilDraw

Police Linked to Hacking Campaign to Frame Indian Activists

16/06/2022

Wired.com / by Andy Greenberg

New details connect police in India to a plot to plant evidence on victims’ computers that led to their arrest.
Police forces around the world have increasingly used hacking tools to identify and track protesters, expose political dissidents’ secrets, and turn activists’ computers and phones into inescapable eavesdropping bugs. Now, new clues in a case in India connect law enforcement to a hacking campaign that used those tools to go an appalling step further: planting false incriminating files on targets’ computers that the same police then used as grounds to arrest and jail them.
Read more

by Andy Greenberg / @a_greenberg (June 16):
A wild, appalling story: A group of hackers fabricated evidence on the PCs of Indian human rights activists who were then arrested for terrorism and jailed. Now researchers have found a direct link between those hackers and the police making the arrests.
Read full thread


Fabricated evidence planted to implicate Elgaar activists, says US magazine

18/06/2022

The Telegraph / by Pheroze L. Vincent

Maharashtra govt and Centre have resisted the admission of the multiple revelations of hacking as evidence and consistently opposed bail in the case.
America’s Wired magazine has alleged links between Pune police and hackers who it says planted fabricated evidence on some of the accused in the Elgaar Parishad-Maoist links case, which witnessed the arrest of 16 activists, writers, academics and lawyers.
Earlier, two digital security firms in the US had revealed the planting of electronic evidence – claims that the prosecution has rejected, with the investigators ignoring calls to review the evidence.
Read more


Security Researchers Claim Link Between Pune Police And Hacking Campaign Against Bhima Koregaon Accused

16/06/2022

The Wire / by The Wire Staff

The recovery email id and phone number on accounts of Wilson, Rao and Babu were allegedly linked to a Pune police officer.
Security researchers in the United States have claimed that they unearthed new evidence that links the Pune police to the hacking of e-mail accounts of activists Rona Wilson and Varavara Rao and Delhi University professor Hany Babu. This is the first time that the state’s involvement has been directly established in the case.
Read more


Report links cop to hacking bid on Bhima accused

16/06/2022

Hindustan Times / by HT Correspondent

There are links between a Pune police official and a hacking campaign that targeted suspects in the Bhima Koregaon case, a report by news website Wired said on Thursday, citing information from an unnamed whistleblower from a company that provided email services to the targets.
The report is the latest in a series of clues that bring into question the provenance of the evidence used in the Bhima Koregaon case, in which several activists have been accused of terrorism through their alleged links to the extremist Maoist rebellion.
Read more


Pune Police allegedly planted fake evidence on devices of Bhima Koregaon accused, reports Wired

16/06/2022

Scroll.in / by Scroll Staff

The recovery email id and phone number on accounts of Rona Wilson, Varavara Rao and Hany Babu were linked to a police officer, a cybersecurity firm has claimed.
A US-based cybersecurity company has claimed that the Pune Police hacked electronic devices owned by activists Rona Wilson, Varavara Rao and Hany Babu and planted fake evidence on them, reported Wired magazine in the US.
Read more


Also read:
The unravelling of a conspiracy: were the 16 charged with plotting to kill India’s prime minister framed? (The Guardian / Aug 2021)
Explainer: Arsenal Report on Surendra Gadling (The Leaflet / July 2021)
They were Accused of plotting to overthrow the Modi government – The evidence was planted, a new report says (Washington Post / Feb 2021)

Pune Police Evade The Law By Dodging Questions On Use Of Pegasus Spyware On Indian Citizens

Pune Police Evade The Law By Dodging Questions On Use Of Pegasus Spyware On Indian Citizens

Pune Police Evade The Law By Dodging Questions On Use Of Israeli Spyware On Indian Citizens

03/04/2022

Artice 14 / by Saurav Das

Despite multiple right-to-information applications asking whether the Pune police purchased or used military-grade Pegasus spyware in the Bhima-Koregaon case, its information officer evaded an answer, refusing to admit the questions on technical grounds. Experts said the police replies were legally untenable and dismissive of a growing demand for greater transparency and accountability in India’s surveillance framework. 
A Pune police refusal to reply to right-to-information (RTI) queries about the use of Israeli spyware Pegasus raise several questions about whether the military-grade hacking weapon was deployed in implicating lawyers, activists, and academics in the Bhima Koregaon-Elgar Parishad (BK-EP) case, which invokes India’s draconian counter-terrorism law,  the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967.
Read more


Media in India: Shackled and spied on

03/05/2022

The Leaflet / by Sukumar Muralidharan

Early in April, the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting [MIB] ordered 22 YouTube channels blocked, 18 based in India and four in Pakistan. Also blocked were four social media accounts and one news website. Later in the month, another 16 YouTube channels were blocked, ten in India and all others in the neighbouring State, alongside one Facebook account.
Read more


Also read:
Leaked Data Shows Surveillance Net in Elgar Parishad Case May Have Crossed a Line (The Wire / July 2021)

Charges to be framed next week, all accused asked to remain present in court

Charges to be framed next week, all accused asked to remain present in court

The Indian Express / by Sadaf Modak

The NIA had submitted draft charges in August last year based on which the court will decide on the charges to be framed against the accused.
The special court hearing the Elgaar Parishad case on Tuesday directed both the accused and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to take steps to proceed with the case and asked all accused to remain present for the hearing next week, on April 27, for framing of charges.
Read more


Also read
Cyber Attackers Who Targeted Rona Wilson Could Have Been Engaged by Same Entity: Report (The Wire / Feb 2022)
Accused in the Bhima Koregaon – Elgar Parishad case have approached the Bombay High Court to stay till clone copies of electronic evidence is provided (Live Law / Aug 2021)
NIA files draft charges against accused in Elgar Parishad case (India Today / Aug 2021)

CM’s Statement On Saffron Flags During Protest ‘Extraneous’: NIA Court While Rejecting Bail / Statement by Sagar & Ramesh

CM’s Statement On Saffron Flags During Protest ‘Extraneous’: NIA Court While Rejecting Bail / Statement by Sagar & Ramesh

Special NIA Court rejects former CM Fadnavis’ statement as evidence, denies bail to three Bhima Koregaon accused

19/02/2022

The Leaflet / by The Leaflet

A special National Investigative Agency (NIA) court denied bail on Monday to three persons accused in the Bhima Koregaon (Elgar Parishad) case and declined to consider former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ statement in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly.  The court, while denying bail, maintained that the accused hatched a “serious conspiracy” to create unrest in the country.
Read more


CM’s Statement On Presence Of Crowd With Saffron Flags During Bhima Koregaon Protest ‘Extraneous’: NIA Court While Rejecting Bail

17/02/2022

Live Law / by Sahrmeen Hakim

Fadnavis spoke about the unexpected presence of over 200-300 people holding saffron flags on the day of violence.
The NIA court has declined to consider Maharashtra’s ex-Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s statement in the State Legislative Assembly on the issue of caste violence at Bhima Koregaon while rejecting bail applications of three accused. The then Chief Minister had spoken on the floor of the house about the presence of around 200-300 people holding saffron flags, sloganeering at the place of the caste violence on January 1, 2018.
Read more


Accused wanted to create unrest in country, says NIA court

17/02/2022

Hindustan Times / by Vinay Dalvi

Though the verdict was pronounced on Monday, the detailed order became available late in the evening on Wednesday.
“From the documents and letters placed on record, prima facie it can be gathered that the applicants along with other members of the banned organisation hatched a serious conspiracy to create unrest in the entire country and to overpower the government politically,” the special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court has said, while rejecting bail pleas of Kabir Kala Manch members Jyoti Jagtap, Sagar Gorkhe and Ramesh Gaichor.
Read more


Video Statement by Sagar Gorkhe and Ramesh Gaichor (Sep 5, 2020)


hindi (en subtitles) | 2:20min | 2020
Before arresting them, NIA allegedly offered to let off Kabir Kala Manch musicians Sagar Gorkhe and Ramesh Gaichor if they admitted to Maoist links, to indict activists arrested in the #BhimaKoregaon case.
Watch video


Also read:
The unravelling of a conspiracy: were the 16 charged with plotting to kill India’s prime minister framed? (The Guardian / Aug 2021)
They were accused of plotting to overthrow the Modi government. The evidence was planted, a new report says (Washington Post / Feb 2021)
The many plots to assassinate Narendra Modi (The Caravan / Sep 2018)

Activist Rona Wilson was targeted by two separate hacker groups, says report

Activist Rona Wilson was targeted by two separate hacker groups, says report

Rona Wilson Targeted in 10-Year Cyber Espionage Effort by Two Groups: Report

11/02/2022

The Wire / by The Wire Staff

Findings by US experts under the cybersecurity firm SentinelOne reveal that Wilson was targeted in a nearly decade-long effort – a time frame significantly longer than earlier realised.
A new report has found that activist Rona Wilson – incarcerated over what the Pune Police and NIA believe are his connections to the Elgar Parishad case – was targeted by two groups who took up cyber crime campaigns against him.
Read more


Indian activist charged with terrorism was targeted by hackers linked to prominent cyber espionage attacks, new report finds

10/02/2022

The Washington Post / by Niha Masih and Gerry Shih

In early 2021, India was jolted by revelations that a jailed human rights activist and vocal government critic was targeted by hackers who planted incriminating evidence on his laptop before he was arrested on terrorism charges.
Now, a year later, a report by U.S. experts says the activist, Rona Wilson, was targeted by two separate groups, including one group that has been linked to widely documented cyberespionage campaigns against military targets in China and Pakistan, India’s top foreign adversaries.
Read more


Activist Rona Wilson was targeted by two separate hacker groups, says report

10/02/2022

Scroll.in / by Scroll Staff

One of the groups has reportedly been linked to cyberespionage efforts against military targets in China and Pakistan.
Activist Rona Wilson, who has been named as an accused person in the Bhima Koregaon case, was targeted by two separate groups of hackers before he was arrested, The Washington Post reported on Thursday.
Read more