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'Mumbai Rises to Save Democracy'

Last updated on: December 23, 2022 13:50 IST

The State has played with their lives.'
'Arsenal proved the machines were hacked and false evidence implanted with false files and letters.'
Neeta Kolhatkar reports.

IMAGE: The 'Mumbai Rises To Save Democracy' media interaction in Mumbai.
From left: Father Joe Xavier, Senior Advocate Mihir Desai, Father Frazer Mascarenhas, Professor G Nagarjuna. Photograph: Neeta Kolhatkar

An independent organisation, 'Mumbai Rises To Save Democracy', called upon the public and media to raise their voices against the authoritarian State.

This call comes after the United States-based digital forensics firm Arsenal Consulting revealed that several incriminating documents were planted on the computers of the late Father Stan Swamy, Rona Wilson and Surendra Gadling, accused in the Bhima Koregaon case.

Speaking about the planting of false evidence against Father Stan, Wilson and Gadling, G Nagarjuna, a former professor at the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, asserted it is time the scientific community stepped forward.

"They are using computer science to implant false evidence and India has many computer scientists. It is time they stepped up and came forward to expose these falsehoods. Why aren't they coming forward?" asked Professor Nagarjuna.

"We want to take our cause to the people who need to raise their voice against the way the government and agencies have gone about arresting 16 people in the Bhima Koregaon case. Especially after Father Stan Swamy's death," stated Father Joe Xavier, convenor, Father Stan Swamy Legacy Committee of the Jesuits.

"There is fear seeing the culture of fear around us. People are scared that they too can be arrested. Especially after the way the agencies have implanted false evidence in the computers," Father Xavier added.

"People are scared that even within your four walls anything can happen."

IMAGE: Activists in Ranchi protest after Father Stan's death. Photograph: PTI Photo

"With the media being controlled, disinformation is widely spread. Our role is to tell the truth of the BK-16 (the 16 intellectuals arrested in the Bhima Koregaon case), since a similar strategy is seen to be applied in the case of activists who opposed the NRC and CAA," explained Father Frazer Mascarenhas, the parish priest at St Peter's church in Mumbai.

"Usually at our press conferences we would see the boom mike of NDTV. It is missing today. Speaks of changing times," Senior Advocate Mihir Desai pointed out, drawing applause from the audience.

Taking Father Stan's specific case, the legal team is exploring moving the court to ask for an independent inquiry into the Arsenal report.

Speaking in chaste Marathi, Father Frazer asked why Maharashtra isn't humane. "It is not surprising to see how the government and agencies went about arresting Father Swamy... their conspiracy was not shocking. They are not humane. I am surprised that Maharashtra isn't humane."

IMAGE: A silent protest in Bengaluru for 83-year-old Father Stan Swamy, who was arrested for his alleged involvement in the Bhima Koregaon violence. Photograph: Shailendra Bhojak/PTI Photo

Professor Nagarjuna explained how, when and where the files were hacked in the computers. He explained that the metadata of the computers shows that Father Stan, Wilson and Gadling did not interact or modify their files.

The meta data reveals 46 incriminating documents were seen implanted.

"There is no doubt Father Swamy's computer was infected by Netwire. The forensic report shows 46 incriminating documents were planted in his computer. In such a short time it is impossible to write, create and save changes made. It all happened in a jiffy of a second and Trojan Horse seems to have executed the script," Professor Nagarjuna stated.

The metadata has provided a strong clue of the heightened activity one day prior to Father Stan's arrest.

"Father Swamy's premise was first raided on August 28, 2018, but at that time his computer had stopped working so he was a given new one," Father Joe revealed. "They confiscated the new laptop and found nothing in it so they returned it. Then again, they raided a day before his arrest and confiscated the machine. The metadata shows heavy movement before his arrest on October 8, 2020."

Father Stan died on July 5, 2021.

Nearly a year ago, Arsenal's first reports were released revealing that Surendra Gadling and Rona Wilson's computer were compromised.

"Now we are seeing that Father Stan Swamy's computer was also implanted with false evidence," Meenal Gadling, Surendra Gadling's wife, stated in a recorded voice message played at the media interaction.

"The State has played with their lives. Arsenal proved the machines were hacked and false evidence implanted with false files and letters. The three had not written what was released by the agencies," Meenal Gadling pointed out.

"All the jailed people are innocent in this case. We urge the agencies to go beyond the Arsenal report and give it to independent agencies to test the computers," she added.

"Sadly, Surendra has been in jail for the last four-and-a-half years. He couldn't see his mother," Meenal Gadling pointed out. "They have done this to a man who has fought for seeking justice for tribals, Dalits and marginalised people."

"We have been seeing the condition of jails and we also saw how Father Stan was treated. They refused to give him a straw even to sip water."

"I fear the next tragedy may be soon and who will be next?"

"Please, I request the jailed should be released soon. Take cognisance of this report and we should get justice. Let the truth come out."


Feature Presentation: Rajesh Alva/