by Bar & Bench (April 13):
Bhima Koregaon accused Hany Babu has approached #BombayHighCourt seeking regular bail after it was rejected by the Mumbai #NIA Court.
No bail; ‘prima facie evidence Hany Babu part of Maoist outfit’: NIA Court
The Indian Express / by Express News Service
“The same can be said to be sufficient to prima facie establish that the applicant was instrumental for the release of convict G N Saibaba, who was convicted for the activities of the CPI (M),” special Judge Dinesh E Kothalikar said in the detailed order made available on Monday.
IN ITS detailed order rejecting bail to Delhi University associate professor Hany Babu, a special court has said that there is prima facie evidence that he was ‘actively involved’ in activities of banned organisation, CPI (Maoist). Read more
For the Government, COVID Is the Perfect Excuse to Worsen Conditions for Political Prisoners
Human rights abuses against imprisoned activists have been easy to cover up in the names of ‘quarantine’ and ‘isolation’.
To be jailed for political activity is an abomination. According to Luis Jiménez de Asúa, a Spanish jurist, “Political prisoners are people who have been incarcerated for working for revolutionary change and for the betterment of society.” Countless people have been imprisoned for criticising and working against governments. Read more
Rona Wilson’s iPhone Infected With Pegasus Spyware, Says New Forensic Report
The Wire / by Sukanya Shantha
Arsenal Consulting was engaged by Wilson’s defence lawyers to study the electronic evidence submitted against him in the Elgar Parishad case.
Rona Wilson, a prisoners’ rights activist and academic based in Delhi, was a victim of both surveillance and incriminating document delivery for close to a year before his arrest on June 6, 2018, according to a new digital forensics report.
Wilson, originally from Kerala and who continued with his social activism work in Delhi, was one of the first persons to be arrested in the Elgar Parishad case. Read more
Phone of Indian activist jailed on terrorism charges was infected with Pegasus spyware, new analysis finds
The Washington Post / by Niha Masih
A smartphone belonging to jailed Indian activist Rona Wilson was infiltrated using NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware before his arrest, according to a new forensic analysis by Amnesty International’s Security Lab that reignites questions about the use of malware attacks against dissidents and government critics in India.
The analysis by Amnesty showed that two backups of an iPhone 6s belonging to Wilson, who has been in jail on terrorism charges since June 2018, had digital traces showing infection by the Pegasus surveillance tool, which its developer, the Israeli cybersecurity firm NSO Group, has said has been licensed only to government agencies. Read more
Pegasus spyware ‘found on phone of jailed critic of Narendra Modi’
The Guardian / by Stephanie Kirchgaessner and Michael Safi
Analysis of Rona Wilson’s phone found evidence it was infected with NSO Group spyware three months before arrest
The Indian government’s case against Rona Wilson, a jailed Indian activist and critic of Narendra Modi’s administration, is expected to face new scrutiny following allegations that his mobile phone was hacked using Israeli-made spyware just months before his controversial arrest. Read more
Father of Rona Wilson, activist jailed in Elgar Parishad case, passes away
The Indian Express / by Express News Service
Wilson had last met him in April 2018 when he had visited Kerala. His lawyers will be approaching the court seeking temporary bail so that he can travel to his home for the final rites.
Father of jailed activist Rona Wilson, who was arrested in 2018 over his alleged involvement in the Elgar Parishad case, passed away on Wednesday at his residence in Alappuzha. He was 84. Read more
Jailed activist Rona Wilson’s father passes away
Sabrang India / by Adeeti Singh
Jacob Wilson, father of Rona Wilson, breathed his last on August 18, in the absence of his son who is imprisoned in the Bhima Koregaon violence case since 2018. He was reportedly not keeping well, but refused hospitalisation.
Many other accused persons in the Bhima Koregaon case have experienced similar loss and grief. Read more
Exclusive excerpts from ‘I Am Not A Silent Spectator’, an anthology of writings by the late Father Stan Swamy, Jesuit sociologist and at 84 the oldest accused, when he died on 5 July 2021 after nine months in custody in the Bhima-Koregaon case. He writes about his life with Adivasis & their struggles against injustice, & the case against him and more. Read more
I am not a Silent Spectator – Why Truth has become so bitter, Dissent so intolarable, Justice so out of reach.
An Autobiographical Fragment, Memory and Reflection
Edition: Aug 2021
Publisher: Indian Social Institute, Bangalore
Paperback: 149 pages
Parliament panel to hold meeting on data security and privacy on July 28
Scroll.in / by Scroll Staff
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology will question officials from the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology on July 28 in connection with reports about the illegal surveillance using Pegasus spyware, ANI reported.
… In November 2019, BJP MPs opposed when the standing committee wanted to discuss the matter, according to The Hindu. In a later meeting, the panel met 17 individuals representing a platform called the “Pegasus Targeted Persons”. They included human rights activist Bela Bhatia, Dalit activist and Bhima Koregaon case accused Anand Teltumbde, Jagdalpur Legal Aid group member Shalini Gera, Chattisgarh-based civil rights activist Alok Shukla and human rights activist Jagdish Meshram. Read more
Report on Pegasus ‘by the disrupters for the obstructers’, says Home Minister Amit Shah
Scroll.in / by Scroll Staff
Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday dismissed an investigation pointing to the use of the Pegasus hacking software to spy on journalists, activists and Opposition leaders in India, calling it “a report by the disrupters for the obstructers”.
… On Sunday, The Wire revealed the names of dozens of journalists and activists on the list, including its own founder-editors Siddharth Vardarajan and MK Venu, The Hindu’s Vijaita Singh, the Hindustan Times’ Shishir Gupta, as well as scholars and activists on the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners and relatives, lawyers and friends of those arrested in the Bhima Koregaon case and the accused themselves. Read more
Telangana govt bans Revolutionary Writers Association, 15 other orgs
The Telangana government on Friday banned 16 organisations, including the Revolutionary Writers Association, known as Virasam, claiming that these are frontal bodies of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), and are engaged in “tactics” that “wage war against the state”. The order was passed by chief secretary Somesh Kumar, with effect from March 30 this year.
… The Government Order also clearly states that the organisations are also being banned for demanding the release of Prof. GN Sai Baba, Rona Wilson, and writer Vara Vara Rao (who is from Virasam), who are all currently in prison with regard to the Elgar Parishad case, on allegations of conspiring to kill Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Read more
Andhra govt, Centre ‘collude’ to repeat Bhima Koregaon type case against rights activists
Counterview / by Counterview Desk
In a comprehensive statement, running into about 3,500 words, India’s premier human rights organisation, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), even as condemning the recent “unprecedented attack” on rights activists by the Andhra Pradesh government, with the Centre’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) and stood in “solidarity”, has said that the main aim of the “witch hunt” is to silence dissent.
Signed by Ravi Kiran Jain and Dr V Suresh, respectively President and General Secretary of PUCL, the statement, drawing a parallel with the Bhima Koregaon case, said, this time too the NIA cover was used to level the allegation that the activists were all supporters and “front organisations” of Maoists. Read more
NIA Raids 33 Activists in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana
The Leaflet / by The Leaflet
On 31st March & 1st April 2021, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) raided the homes of at least 33 human rights and civil liberties activists, members of women’s groups, Dalit organizations, labor unions, and social and cultural movements in 31 locations spread across Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. The NIA alleged that the activists were all supporters and “front organizations” of Maoists. These raids resemble the ones carried out in the Bhima Koregoan case….
In the past few years, the NIA has frequently stepped in to take control of UAPA cases in states which are not governed by the BJP. Read more
The large scale destruction of lives and livelihoods in 2020 caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in India and its inept handling by the government has been accompanied by another sort of destruction, much more deliberate and calculated. It is the destruction of the democratic rights organizations (DROs) of India, as part of a vicious plan of the BJP government to irreparably shrink the democratic space for a future that we can only tremble to think about. Read more
Gadling in jail. Reason? As lawyer-activist he has been ‘unpleasant’ to India’s topcops
Counterview / by Nilkantha Mandal, Sandeep Pandey, Kushagra Kumar
Surendra Gadling, now in jail in the Bhima-Koregoan violence case, is a human rights lawyer and Dalit rights activist based in Nagpur. He is known for taking up cases of extra-judicial killings, police excesses and atrocities against Dalits and Adivasis in Gadchiroli and Gondia districts of Maharashtra. Read more
The cost of voicing dissent: UAPA against G.N. Saibaba, Gautam Navlakha, Father Stan Swamy and others
Countercurrents / by Kunal Pant
In 2016, a Supreme Court Judge asked the state of Maharashtra, “Do you want to extract a pound of flesh?” The statement was directed against the state for contesting the bail plea of Delhi University Professor G. N. Saibaba. Saibaba was arrested in 2014, a justification for which was to prevent him from committing what the police called “anti-national activities.” Read more