It was eight years ago, on February 9, 2013, that Afzal Guru was hanged to death in Tihar Jail, as one of the accused of the 2001 Parliament attack case. Even with lack of reasonable evidence, the Supreme Court had cited in the judgement that such a punishment was necessary "to satisfy public conscience". He was accused of bringing to Delhi some of the people who had been killed in the standoff during the attack. Guru had not denied that he transported some of them to New Delhi. However, he maintained that he had done so under the instructions of J&K Police officer Devinder Singh. Afzal Guru was punished by death for transporting people handed over by a police officer to Delhi. What he testified was not discussed seriously by the court or the public. However, in January 2020, the same Devinder Singh was arrested while travelling with terrorists. It did not surprise the nation that a senior police officer was arrested with terrorists. It must be noted that Devinder Singh was arrested as the national media quoted the Intelligence Bureau that there were high chances of a 'terrorist attack' in Delhi on Republic Day amidst the widespread anti-CAA protests. This is being recalled to show how the deep state functions within the constitution and manufactures terrorists at the behest of those in power. This is being recalled amidst the new revelations in the Bhima Koregaon case.
In January 2018, Dalit organisations called for a huge gathering to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the historic Bhima Koregaon battle in the village of Bhima Koregaon near Pune. Upper caste communities attacked the gathering and violence ensued. This is the basis of the Bhima Koregaon case. However, those who unleashed violence on the Dalit gathering were not named in the charge-sheet. Various activists, human rights workers, authors, and academicians from across the country were charged with UAPA and arrested. Sixteen including prominent journalist Gautam Navlakha, Telugu revolutionary poet Varavara Rao, human rights activist Arun Ferreira, advocate and trade union organiser Sudha Bharadwaj, renowned academicians Anand Teltumbde, Shoma Sen, Christian priest Stan Swamy, Keralite professor from Delhi University Hany Babu and writer-activist Rona Wilson, are now in jail. Of the 16, 15 did not even attend the Bhima Koregaon gathering.
Though initially arrested on allegations of instigating the Bhima Koregaon violence, they were charged with more offences subsequently. The new allegations included a conspiracy to murder PM Modi. NIA informed the court that sufficient digital evidence was gathered to attest to the charges from the laptops of the accused. NIA claims that mails stating PM Modi must be murdered like former PM Rajiv Gandhi, and weapons must be mobilised from Nepal, were procured from the laptops of the accused including Rona Wilson. It is common for these investigative agencies to allege and charge similar offences on those arrested in other cases as well. What is worrisome, however, is that far more serious plots were behind this. The new revelations by Arsenal Consulting, a well-known digital forensic consultancy based in Massachusetts, shows that it was a cyber attack, implanted carefully through viruses that sent these alleged incriminating emails to the co-accused. Relatives of other accused including Hany Babu and Varavara Rao have informed that their laptops were attacked by viruses and demanded further inquiry into the same. Arsenal's report notes that the operation was conducted using the Israeli spyware Pegasus. The software's owners themselves have confirmed that it is not distributed to private individuals or companies but only to governments. Therefore, it must be assumed that the government itself is behind the conspiracy. Thus the message of the episode is how the state's manufacturing of 'terror' has gone hi-tech with newer technology further enabling them. Or to summarize, we have to be more scared of the state.