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New Book on Bhima Koregaon Case Tells Uncomfortable Truths, But Brings Hope / Book launch

New Book on Bhima Koregaon Case Tells Uncomfortable Truths, But Brings Hope / Book launch

New Book on Bhima Koregaon Case Tells Uncomfortable Truths, But Brings Hope

31/04/2024

The Quint / by Mekhala Saran

Alpa Shah’s book, ‘The Incarcerations’, is alive with stories of fearlessness, but also of the cost it extracts.

“Well, I am off to NIA custody and do not know when I shall be able to talk to you again. However, I earnestly hope that you will speak out before your turn comes.”

– Anand Teltumbde, on the eve of his incarceration in April 2020

Alpa Shah’s book on the Bhima Koregaon incarcerations is not an easy read. When I first decided to review the book – before laying my hands on it – I thought it would not take me longer than a week.
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A new book recounts how 16 activists were imprisoned as terrorists, without trial

27/03/2024

Scroll.in / by Alpa Shah

An excerpt from ‘The Incarcerations: Bhima Koregaon and the Search for Democracy in India’
Amnesty International India and Oxfam India released a joint response the day Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and Varavara Rao were arrested. “The nationwide crackdown on activists, advocates and human rights defenders is disturbing and threatens core human rights values.”
Read more


by Shireen Azam / @shireenazam (March 26:)
A full full house at @LSEpublicevents for the book release of (Bhima Koregaon) Incarcerations by @alpashah001


Video| Book launch/discussion: The Incarcerations: BK-16 and the search for democracy in India

26/03/2024

Hosted by the International Inequalities Institute, LSE Human Rights, Department of Anthropology and Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity

IN-PERSON AND ONLINE PUBLIC EVENT

Speakers:
Professor Alpa Shah.
Discussants: Professor Christophe Jaffrelot, Professor Tarun Khaitan and Priyanka Kotamraju
Chair: Professor Deborah James

Join us to launch and discuss Alpa Shah’s new book, The Incarcerations: BK-16 and the search for democracy in India.
As general elections fast approach in the world’s largest democracy, this event asks what democracy today must urgently ensure for our common future. In her latest book, Alpa Shah pulls back the curtain on Indian democracy to tell the remarkable and chilling story of the Bhima Koregaon case, in which 16 human rights defenders (the BK-16) – professors, lawyers, artists – have been imprisoned, without credible evidence and without trial, as Maoist terrorists.
Read more

Watch on LSE’s YouTube channel.


Interview | Alpa Shah: India is not a safe place any more

23/03/2024

The News Statesman / by  Gavin Jacobson

Narendra Modi’s Hindu supremacism is capturing major state institutions while repressing minority groups and political activists.
… Shah exposes how the state engaged in a prolonged act of cyberwar against the so-called “BK-16”, hacking their emails and implanting incriminating evidence on their computers in order to prosecute them. It is the best book I’ve read about the full-scale assault on democracy in India, and with the general elections scheduled to conclude in June, it’s essential reading for an understanding of what is happening to the country right now.
On 18 March I met Shah at her office at the London School of Economics.

Gavin Jacobson: When did you decide to write a book about the BK-16?
Read more


Hackers-for-Hire, Govt’s Media Control: Seven Takeaways From Studying the Arrests of the BK-16

15/03/2024

The Wire / by Alpa Shah

“…the evidence used to incarcerate the BK-16 was likely to have been implanted remotely through a hacker-for-hire mercenary gang infrastructure that has clients all over the world, but whose epicentre is in India.”
Excerpted with permission from Alpa Shah’s The Incarcerations: Bhima Koregaon and the Search for Democracy in India, HarperCollins 2024.
Read more


Hacker-for-hire gang with links to Pune police planted emails on the computers of Bhima Koregaon accused: new book

14/03/2024

The Hindu / by Vijaita Singh

The mercenary hacker gang, headquartered in India, remotely implanted evidence, according to LSE professor’s book; cites cybersecurity researchers to claim gang’s connection to a Pune police officer
The alleged evidence used to incarcerate 16 people in the Bhima Koregaon case was “likely to have been implanted remotely through a hacker-for-hire mercenary gang infrastructure that has clients all over the world, but whose epicentre is in India,” according to claims made in a new book.
Read more


The arrests putting Narendra Modi’s ‘fascist’ India on trial

14/03/2024

The Telegraph / by Andrew Whitehead

Stan Swamy, a Jesuit priest, died in custody in India in July 2021. He was 84. He had spent nine months in detention and had been repeatedly denied bail; yet he had not been convicted of any offence.
… Alpa Shah, an anthropology professor at the London School of Economics, argues in The Incarcerations that the arrest of Swamy and 15 others – lawyers, academics, poets, activists – in what has become known as the “BK case” reveals India’s authoritarian creep.
Read more


Also read:
Why Courts Are Ignoring Concerns Of Planted Evidence In The Bhima-Koregaon Prosecution (article14 / Jan 2023)
Police Linked to Hacking Campaign to Frame Indian Activists (Wired.com / June 2022)

NIA says it has already supplied copies of all electronic evidence to the accused

NIA says it has already supplied copies of all electronic evidence to the accused

The Leaflet / by Sarah Thanawala

Today, the National Investigation Agency informed the court that it has already supplied cloned copies of all electronic evidence it relies on in the Bhima Koregaon case with the accused.
It also sidestepped compliance with the previous Order of the court on providing a chart showing evidence shared and pending with the accused by stating that such a chart had already been furnished by the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL).
Read More


Also read:
Why Courts Are Ignoring Concerns Of Planted Evidence In The Bhima-Koregaon Prosecution (article14 / Jan 2023)
Incriminating document found in Fr. Stan Swamy’s computer ‘planted’; similar tampering found in other Bhima Koregaon accused: Reports American forensic firm (The Leaflet / Dec 2022)

Court pulls up NIA for not giving electronic evidence copies to Gautam Navlakha

Court pulls up NIA for not giving electronic evidence copies to Gautam Navlakha

NIA court lambasts prosecution for not providing cloned copies of evidence to Gautam Navlakha

17/01/2024

The Leaflet / by Sarah Thanawala

During the previous hearing, journalist and human rights activist Gautam Navlakha had filed an application seeking cloned copies of electronic evidence claimed by the investigating authorities.
On Tuesday, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) admitted to not having supplied cloned copies of all electronic evidence it relies on to journalist and human rights activist Gautam Navlakha.
Read more


Court pulls up NIA for not giving electronic evidence copies to Gautam Navlakha

17/01/2024

Scroll.in / by Scroll Staff

The activist’s lawyer said that the central agency earlier filed an affidavit claiming that it had provided the clones to all the accused persons.
A special court on Tuesday pulled up the National Investigation Agency for failing to provide cloned copies of the electronic evidence it is relying on in the Bhima Koregaon case to human rights activist Gautam Navlakha, the Leaflet reported.
Read more


Also Read:
NIA submits affidavit stating accused have been provided copies of all evidence (The Leaflet / Oct 2023)
Why Courts Are Ignoring Concerns Of Planted Evidence In The Bhima-Koregaon Prosecution (article14 / Jan 2023)
Incriminating document found in Fr. Stan Swamy’s computer ‘planted’; similar tampering found in other Bhima Koregaon accused: Reports American forensic firm (The Leaflet / Dec 2022)

State-sponsored attacks of surveillance reveal an erosion on Indians’ right to privacy

State-sponsored attacks of surveillance reveal an erosion on Indians’ right to privacy

Image Courtesy: commons.wikimedia.org

SabrangIndia / by Tanya Arora

Bringing back the ghost of Pegasus malware by the ruling regime, recent alerts from Apple throw up more instances of a state-sponsored surveillance attack on leaders of the opposition and journalists
On the morning of October 31, several journalists and politicians from the opposition parties in India woke up to alerts on their iPhones pertaining to a state-sponsored attack on their phones. The alerts were sent by Apple via message and email. The alert had also alleged that the reason behind the attempts to comprising the phones of the individuals might have something to do with who they are and what they do.
Read more


Also Read:
Why Courts Are Ignoring Concerns Of Planted Evidence In The Bhima-Koregaon Prosecution (article14 / Jan 2023)
Incriminating evidence planted in computers: The Trojan solved the Bhima Koregaon case! (Anchored Narratives / Jan 2023)
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)

Gonsalves and Ferreira application parses evidence supplied and not supplied per Section 207 CrPc

Gonsalves and Ferreira application parses evidence supplied and not supplied per Section 207 CrPc

Poster by #bakeryprasad

The Leaflet / by Sarah Thanawala

On May 23, 2022, a National Investigation Agency court had directed the agency to furnish a chart consisting of the details of electronic devices seized in the case to be supplied to accused persons, which has not been complied with.
On Wednesday, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira filed an application containing a chart on the electronic evidence relied upon by the prosecution.
Read more


Also Read:
What is Section 207 CrPC, an essential piece of the Bhima Koregaon case puzzle? (The Leaflet / Aug 2023)
Why Courts Are Ignoring Concerns Of Planted Evidence In The Bhima-Koregaon Prosecution (article14 / Jan 2023)
Prison-rights activist Rona Wilson’s hard disk contained malware that allowed remote access (The Caravan / March 2020)

Supreme Court seeks guidelines for search and seizure of electronic devices

Supreme Court seeks guidelines for search and seizure of electronic devices

Poster by #bakeryprasad

Supreme Court calls for norms on seizure of devices by probe agencies

08/11/2023

Hindustan Times / by Utkarsh Anand

A 2-judge bench of the apex court is hearing a petition demanding regulation of the police’s power to search or seize digital devices.
… The issue of seizure of digital devices like phones and laptops has become a flashpoint in the Bhima-Koregaon caste violence case with the accused alleging that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) planted evidence on the laptop of Rona Wilson.
Read more


‘Incomplete reports’, ‘financial toll’: The burden of digital device seizures on journalists, outlets

08/11/2023

Newslaundry / by Tanishka Sodhi

Be it the searches at NewsClick, BBC, the Wire, or at the homes of journalists in several states over the last few years, the seizures of journalist’s digital devices have often underlined two issues – pertaining to journalistic privilege and the fundamental right to privacy.
… The Bhima Koregaon case is another prominent example in which activists have alleged violation of due process.
Read more


Supreme Court seeks guidelines for search and seizure of electronic devices

07/11/2023

The Leaflet / by Sarah Thanawala

The development gains significance in light of the crackdown on media such as Newsclick and the letter written by several journalists groups to the Chief Justice of India against it.
On Tuesday, a two-judge Bench of the Supreme Court batted for having guidelines in place to govern the search and seizure of phones or other digital devices belonging to media personnel.
Read more


Also read:
NewsClick raids: Indian law has few safeguards when electronic devices are seized (Scroll.in / Oct 2023)
Fabricating Evidence Against Life and Liberty: Tampering with Fr. Stan Swamy’s computer and its implications for Bhima Koregaon case (Mumbai Rises to Save Democracy / Dec 2022)
Incriminating document found in Fr. Stan Swamy’s computer ‘planted’; similar tampering found in other Bhima Koregaon accused: Reports American forensic firm (The Leaflet / Dec 2022)
Leaked Data Shows Surveillance Net in Elgar Parishad Case May Have Crossed a Line (The Wire / July 2021)

Since Evidence Tampering Not Ruled Out, Shoma Sen and Rona Wilson Want Chargesheets Quashed

Since Evidence Tampering Not Ruled Out, Shoma Sen and Rona Wilson Want Chargesheets Quashed

Since Evidence Tampering Not Ruled Out, Accused Want Chargesheets Quashed

19/10/2023

The Wire / by The Wire Staff

Shoma Sen and Rona Wilson petitioned the Bombay high court alleging that norms were violated in searching and seizing electronic documents from them. 
Shoma Sen and Rona Wilson, named as accused in the Elgar Parishad case, have alleged in their petition before the Bombay high court that the prosecution violated the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, Indian Evidence Act, 1872 and Information Technology Act, 2000 in searching and seizing allegedly incriminating electronic documents from them.
They urged the division Bench of Justice A.S. Gadkari and Justice Sharmila U. Deshmukh on Monday, October 17, to quash the chargesheets against them.
Read more


Bombay High Court hears petition seeking quashing of chargesheets against Shoma Sen and Rona Wilson

17/10/2023

The Leaflet / by Sarah Thanawala

Senior advocate Anand Grover, appearing on behalf of Sen and Wilson, argued that the prosecution violated principles of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, Indian Evidence Act, 1872 and Information Technology Act, 2000 in searching and seizing allegedly incriminating electronic documents.
On Monday, the Bombay High Court heard pleas by women’s rights activist and academic Shoma Sen, and activist and researcher Rona Wilson for quashing chargesheets filed against them.
… The matter is posted for further hearing on October 23.
Read more


Lawyer Raises Concerns Over Security Of Devices Seized In Bhima Koregaon Investigation: Report

17/10/2023

MediaNama / by Aarathi Ganesan

Lawyer Anand Grover argued that simply sealing electronic devices upon seizure did not ensure that the data within had been secured. He also noted that electronic devices could be easily tampered with, without any indication.
The electronic evidence recovered from activists Shoma Sen and Rona Wilson in the Bhima Koregaon investigation was improperly secured upon seizure, advocate Anand Grover alleged before the Bombay High Court yesterday, The Leaflet reported.
Read more


Also read:
Incriminating evidence planted in computers: The Trojan solved the Bhima Koregaon case! (Anchored Narratives / Jan 2023)
Cyber Attackers Who Targeted Rona Wilson Could Have Been Engaged by Same Entity: Report (The Wire / Feb 2022)

Gautam Navlakha, farm stir, Kashmir map: in Delhi cops’ application for Newsclick founder custody

Gautam Navlakha, farm stir, Kashmir map: in Delhi cops’ application for Newsclick founder custody

Police FIR draws on ED claims, links NewsClick to Navlakha-Maoist case

05/10/2023

The Indian Express / by Mahender Singh Manral, Jignasa Sinha, Nirbhay Thakur

Portal rejects China link; Purkayastha, Chakraborty in 7-day police custody
A day after it invoked the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act to arrest Prabir Purkayastha, founder and editor-in-chief of news portal NewsClick, and Amit Chakraborty, the portal’s administrative officer, the Special Cell of Delhi Police obtained their custody Wednesday for 7 days in connection with its probe into alleged routing of funds to the portal and Purkayastha’s “friendship since 1991” with rights activist Gautam Navlakha who is under house arrest in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist link case.
Read more


Gautam Navlakha, farm stir, Kashmir map: in Delhi cops’ application for Newsclick founder custody

04/10/2023

newslaudry / by Prateek Goyal

NewsClick’s founder Prabir Purkayastha and its HR head Amit Chakravarty have been sent to seven-day police custody following their arrest in a UAPA case against the organisation. However, the Delhi Police Special Cell had initially sought 15-day police custody for the two, alleging that there was electronic evidence suggesting a “conspiracy” against the sovereignty of India.
Read more


This Is the Biggest Crackdown on the Indian Press by the Indian State

04/10/2023

The Wire / by Ajoy Ashirwad Mahaprashasta

And yet, none of the drastic actions taken by the police made much sense.
October 3, 2023 will go down in history for the biggest crackdown on Indian journalism by the Indian state. Homes of 46 journalists, including nine women, who are said to be directly and indirectly associated with the news portal NewsClick were raided by the Delhi police’s special cell that usually probes cases of terrorism in the wee hours of Tuesday.
… We still don’t know the specific charges slapped against the news portal, but some television channels, known for pro-government coverage, claimed that the portal had routed some of the Chinese funds to human rights activists Gautam Navlakha and Teesta Setalvad, who are already under the government’s scanner.
Read more


‘Set narrative on CAA stir, Bhima Koregaon using Chinese funds’ — Delhi Police’s case against NewsClick

04/10/2023

The Print / by Bismee Taskin

Delhi Police have accused news portal of ‘receiving Chinese funds routed via US’ & publishing reports ‘with set narrative about protests & violence to tarnish India’s image’, it is learnt.
NewsClick used funds received illegally from China to set and propagate through its coverage a narrative about protests and violence across the country like the farmers’ agitation, the Citizenship Amendment Act protests, and the Bhima Koregaon violence — this is what the Delhi Police has alleged in its case lodged 17 August under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, ThePrint has learnt.
Read more


18 Media Organisations Write to CJI; Call for Steps to end Repressive Use of Probe Agencies Against Scribes

04/10/2023

NewsClick / by Newsclick Report

Citing the raids on Newsclick, seizure of devices without following due processes and slapping of UAPA, the letter calls for framing of interrogation norms to prevent intimidation of the media.
A coalition of 18 media organisations across states has written a letter to Chief Justice of India (CJI) Y V Chandrachud seeking the judiciary’s intervention to ensure that the freedoms enshrined in the Constitution are protected so that journalists can carry out their duty without ‘threat of reprisal’.
Read the full text of the letter


Poster by #bakeryprasad

NewsClick raids: Indian law has few safeguards when electronic devices are seized

03/10/2023

Scroll.in / by Abhik Deb

In an earlier case, forensics experts have said that documents cited as evidence had been planted on their devices.
As the Delhi Police raided the homes of several journalists on Tuesday in connection with an investigation into the funding of news website Newsclick, it confiscated electronic devices such as mobile phones, laptops and hard drives.

Fabrication of evidence in Bhima Koregaon case
However, even more serious allegations were raised with the Bhima Koregaon case in which several activists and writers were charged with making inflammatory speeches at a conclave in Pune in December 2017.
Read more


Also read:
Chronology Samajhiye: 5 Days, 4 Agencies Under Modi Govt Control Target Opposition, Journalists, Activists (The Wire | Soumashree Sarkar | Oct 6, 2023)

● Statement by Newsclick on Oct 3 Raids by Special Cell of Delhi Police (By Newsclick Team / Oct 4, 2023)


We have not been provided FIR copy, or informed about the exact particulars of the alleged offences. Electronic devices have been seized from Newsclick premises and homes of employees without any adherence to due process.
Yesterday, on 3rd October, 2023, raids were carried out by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police at various locations including Newsclick’s offices, residences of journalists and employees – past and present, consultants, and freelance contributors associated with Newsclick.
Several persons were questioned and continue to be questioned. As of now, our Founder-Editor 76-year old Prabir Purkayastha and our administrative officer Amit Chakraborty, who happens to be physically challenged, have been arrested.
Read full statement

There’s still hope for journalism: Media veterans on press freedom and technology

There’s still hope for journalism: Media veterans on press freedom and technology

Poster by #bakeryprasad

The News Minute / by TMM Staff

While the speakers at the event expressed concerns about the misuse of technology as experienced in the Bhima Koregaon episode, where malware was used to trap activists, their speeches ended on a positive note.
In December 2019, a year and a half after the arrest of 16 activists in the Bhima Koregaon case, the then editor of the Caravan magazine, Vinod Jose, got a copy of the hard disk of the laptop used by Rona Wilson, from where an ‘incriminating’ email that led to the arrests was ‘found’. Vinod, sitting at a seminar on media freedom and technology at the Freedom Fest – a technology-related event organised by the government of Kerala – spoke of the Caravan’s discovery of a malware that was planted in Rona’s hard disk, which could plant or ferret out any information from the laptop, without his knowledge.
Read more


Also read:
Police Linked to Hacking Campaign to Frame Indian Activists (Wired.com / June 2022)
Indian activist charged with terrorism was targeted by hackers linked to prominent cyber espionage attacks, new report finds (The Washington Post / Feb 2022)
Prison-rights activist Rona Wilson’s hard disk contained malware that allowed remote access (The Caravan / March 2020)

NIA is allowed yet more time to file reply to plea for furnishing copies of evidence to accused

NIA is allowed yet more time to file reply to plea for furnishing copies of evidence to accused

Poster by @/bakeryprasad

The Leaflet / by Sarah Thanawala

A few accused persons in the Bhima Koregaon–Elgar Parishad Maoist links and criminal conspiracy case have previously argued that their applications for cloned copies under Section 207 of the Code of Criminal Procedure have been pending for more than five years.
On Friday, a National Investigation (NIA) special court of judge Rajesh Kataria allowed the NIA time till August 17 to file a reply to the applications filed by the accused persons in the Bhima Koregaon–Elgar Parishad Maoist links and criminal conspiracy case.
Read more


Also read:
NIA gets more time to reply to plea for furnishing copies of evidence to the accused (The Leaflet / Jul 18, 2023)
Why Courts Are Ignoring Concerns Of Planted Evidence In The Bhima-Koregaon Prosecution (article14 / Jan 2023)
Incriminating evidence planted in computers: The Trojan solved the Bhima Koregaon case! (Anchored Narratives / Jan 2023)
Police Linked to Hacking Campaign to Frame Indian Activists (Wired.com / June 2022)