The report says Surendra Gadling’s computer had been compromised over two years before he was arrested through emails that he received, and on which others like Stan Swamy were copied.
A day after activist Stan Swamy’s death, a report from an American forensic agency claims that incriminating evidence was planted on the computer of Surendra Gadling, who, like the Christian priest, was arrested under a harsh anti-terror law for alleged links to the banned CPI(Maoist) group.
The report says Surendra Gadling’s computer had been compromised over two years before he was arrested through emails that he received, and on which others like Stan Swamy were copied, raising the possibility that Mr Swamy’s computer too may have been targeted.
The 84-year-old Christian priest and Surendra Gadling are among 16 people accused in what is known as the Bhima-Koregaon case.
Till his death, Stan Swamy, like the others named in this case, had argued, including in his multiple bail applications, that the evidence presented against him of instigating a riot and of links to Maoist guerrillas was fabricated.
The National Investigation Agency or NIA claims that Stan Swamy and 15 others instigated the Bhima-Koregaon riot in Maharashtra three years ago when lakhs of Dalits had gathered to commemorate a historic battle which saw Dalits defeating an upper caste army.
All 16 of them, of which Stan Swamy was the oldest, have been arrested under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, which enables prolonged detention for questioning; they have even been named for plotting to assassinate the Prime Minister.
The stringent law has been used by the government to target opponents including left-leaning intellectuals, say critics.
The report accessed by NDTV is the diagnosis of Arsenal Consulting, based in Boston. Earlier this year, The Washington Post had reported on a similar document from the same firm, alleging that an unknown hacker had planted over 30 documents on the computer belonging to Rona Wilson, one of those named for terrorist links.
The latest Arsenal report, dated June 2021, analysed the hard drive of Surendra Gadling, 53, a Dalit rights activist based in Nagpur, finding even deeper proof of the planting of incriminating evidence.
“It should be noted that this is one of the most serious cases involving evidence-tampering that Arsenal has ever encountered,” reads the report.
Arsenal, according to their website, has worked on a number of high-profile cases including the Boston Marathon bombing.
The report says his system was compromised for over 20 months between February 2016 and November 2017, and at least 14 incriminating letters planted on the computer by the same attacker who targeted Rona Wilson’s system and planted 30 files there.
Surendra Gadling was arrested over three years ago and has been in jail since.
The NIA refused to comment on the report, saying the matter is sub judice.