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Elgar accused Gonsalves seeks discharge from case

Mumbai: Activist Vernon Gonsalves on Wednesday sought discharge in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case and cited a report by a US digital forensics company to cast doubt on the veracity of the “main evidence” against him and others.

Gonsalves was arrested in the case in August 2018. He is currently in judicial custody at Taloja jail in neighbouring Navi Mumbai.

In a discharge plea before the special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court here, he said that forensic analysis by Arsenal Consulting, a US digital forensics consulting company, showed that incriminating records were “planted” on the computers of some of the accused using malware.

“Since this is the main evidence in this case, its dubious nature calls into question the whole basis of the case,” the plea added.

Arsenal Consulting has made further “Report III” concluding that the computer of co-accused Surendra Gadling was also similarly compromised, the plea said.

These reports and other forensic analysis indicate that incriminating records were “inserted into the computers/electronic devices”, Gonsalves contended.

It has been almost four years since the first charge-sheet was filed in the case but the accused have yet not received copies of records on which the probe agency NIA is relying, he said.

The case against Gonsalves and others relates to alleged inflammatory speeches delivered at the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on December 31, 2017, which the police claimed triggered violence the next day near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial in Pune district.

The Pune Police also claimed that the conclave was backed by Maoists. The case was later taken over by the NIA.