A US-based forensic firm on Tuesday claimed that digital evidence used to arrest Jesuit priest Father Stan Swamy in the Bhima-Koregaon case was “planted” on his computer’s hard drive, similar to two other cases involving human rights defenders Rona Wilson and Surendra Gadling.
Swamy, 84, who was an accused in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, died in July 2021, while waiting for interim bail on medical grounds.
An examination of an electronic copy of his computer by Arsenal Consulting, a Massachusetts-based digital forensics firm, concluded that a hacker infiltrated his device and “planted” evidence, The Washington Post reported, citing a new report by the company.
This follows previous reports which documented digital evidence planting on the devices of other human rights activists Rona Wilson and Surendra Gadling, the firm said in its report.
“Over 50 files were created on Swamy’s hard drive, including incriminating documents that fabricated links between him and the Maoist insurgency,” the report said.
“The final incriminating document was planted on his computer on June 5, 2019, a week before the raid on Swamy,” the report said.
It was on the basis of these documents that he was first arrested in the Bhima Koregaon case, despite experts raising doubts about the authenticity of the documents, it added.
The Elgar case relates to alleged inflammatory speeches delivered at the ‘Elgar Parishad’ conclave, held at Shaniwarwada in Pune on December 31, 2017, which the police claimed triggered violence the next day near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial located on the city’s outskirts.
The Pune Police claimed the conclave was backed by Maoists.
After Swamy’s death, a spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs had said that his detention followed due process of law.
In response to media queries on the demise of Father Swamy last year, the MEA spokesperson said that his bail applications were rejected by the courts because of the specific nature of charges against him.
“India’s democratic and constitutional polity is complemented by an independent judiciary, a range of national and state level Human Rights Commissions that monitor violations, a free media and a vibrant and vocal civil society. India remains committed to promotion and protection of human rights of all its citizens,” he had said.