An investigative story in Wired has reported on evidence of a link between a Pune City Police official involved in the arrests of the Bhima Koregaon accused, and the hacking of the emails of at least three of the Bhima Koregaon accused.
Previous investigations have already established that the computers and email accounts of the Bhima Koregaon accused were hacked, and crude ‘evidence’ planted that led to their arrest and indefinite incarceration under UAPA. Now we know the identity of at least one of the culprits who did the hacking - a Pune Police officer involved in the Bhima Koregaon arrests.
Diligent international researchers dedicated to protecting citizens’ privacy and human rights, found that the hacker added a new recovery email and phone number for the email accounts of Rona Wilson, Varavara Rao and Prof Hany Babu so that he could easily regain control of their accounts in case they changed their password. To quote the Wired story, “To the researchers’ surprise, that recovery email on all three accounts included the full name of a police official in Pune who was closely involved in the Bhima Koregaon 16 case.” Researchers then found that “entries in open source databases of Indian mobile phone numbers and emails for the recovery phone number that linked it to an email address ending in email@example.com, a suffix for other email addresses used by police in Pune” and also “that the number is also linked in the database to the recovery email address connected to the hacked accounts for the same Pune police official.”
Another researcher found found that “the recovery email address and phone number tied to the Pune police official’s name in the leaked database of TrueCaller, a caller ID and call-blocking app, and found the phone number linked to his name in the leaked database of iimjobs.com, an Indian job recruitment website… Finally (the researcher) also found the recovery phone number listed with the official’s name on multiple archived web directories for Indian police, including on the website of the Pune City Police.”
Researchers found that “the WhatsApp profile photo for the recovery phone number added to the hacked accounts displays a selfie photo of the police official—a man who appears to be the same officer at police press conferences and even in one news photograph taken at the arrest of Varavara Rao.”
The security officer at the email provider who helped establish some of this evidence said to Wired, “We generally don’t tell folks who targeted them but I’m tired of watching shit burn. These guys are not going after terrorists. They’re going after human rights defenders and journalists. And it’s not right.”
The evidence planted by this Pune police official on the computers of the BK16 included crudely worded letters purporting to show that they were exchanging letters with each other and with top Maoist party leaders, conspiring to kill Prime Minister Modi.
It is high time the Supreme Court took suo motu notice of this growing pile of evidence incriminating the Pune Police, and proving the whole BK case to be a frame-up of human rights defenders. The octogenarian Father Stan Swamy died a prisoner, of Covid-19, thanks to this bogus and fictitious case. How can the SC allow the lives of any more human rights defenders to be jeopardised a second longer in this fabricated case?
Today, an Opposition Government comprising Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress rule Maharashtra. Unfortunately, this government the leaders of which compare Modi to Hitler and swear by democratic norms, do nothing to ensure that Taloja jail authorities (who answer to the state government not the Modi regime) provide basic human rights to the BK16. They did not ensure that the jail authorities provide a sipper for Fr Stan, nor return the mosquito net they took from Gautam Navlakha. Minus mosquito nets, prisoners are vulnerable to malaria and other deadly mosquito-borne diseases.
Now that researchers have unearthed evidence that a prominent Pune police official who is involved in the arrest of the BK16, himself planted evidence as a pretext for those arrests, will the Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP at least take steps to file an FIR against this official and investigate his role in the hacking? Will they set up a judicial probe to find out who were the handlers of this hacker in Pune Police uniform?
If the Govt and police have the power to hack citizens’ emails and plant evidence without fear of punishment, we are no longer a democracy. Even prior to 2014, planting evidence to frame and imprison innocents was the rule not the exception (Josy Joseph’s book Deep State presents a wealth of evidence of this). What has changed since 2014 is that this criminal activity by the police and other investigative agencies is now being done to manufacture a political narrative that directly serves the Modi regime: the notion that terrorists are conspiring to assassinate PM Modi.
Will the honourable Supreme Court free the BK16? Will the SC and the Maharashtra Govt ruled by the Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP coalition arrest the Pune Police hacker and investigate at whose behest he did the hacking and framing of innocents?