The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has recorded statement of former Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student and member of Unite against Hate organisation Umar Khalid in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case of 2018 allegedly linked to the Elgar Parishad event of December 31, 2017.
"Retired Justice Shri BG Kolse Patil had invited me for Elgar Parishand meeting in December 31, 2017. During my visit at Punt, I stayed in the house of Justice Shri BG Kolse Patil. ...After completion of (Elgar Parishad) meeting I went back to Shri BG Kolse Patil house," Khalid said in his statement.
When Bar and Bench reached out to Justice Kolse-Patil, the former judge agreed that Khalid along with Jignesh Mevani, Gujarat Member of Legislative Assembly had resided with him, during Elgar Parishad event.
"Yes, that is right, Khalid was living with me with Jignesh Mevani. For security reasons, they were staying with me," the judge said.
Khalid was one of the speakers at the Elgar Parishad event which took place on December 31, 2017.
On December 31, 2017, a group of persons including activists and retired Supreme Court judge Justice PB Sawant and the Justice Patil came together for the Elgar Parishad event.
It was marred by violent clashes between Dalit and Maratha groups which led to at least one death and injuries to several others. Consequently, three First Information Reports (FIRs) were filed in the case.
There are presently 15 accused in the case, after the death of Father Stan Swamy who was the sixteenth accused.
Justice Sawant and Patil, however, are not accused in the case though they have all along maintained that they were the ones who organised and funded the event.
Khalid too is not arraigned as an accused in the Bhima Koregaon case.
Khalid is presently in Tihar jail in Delhi after he was arrested and charged in an Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) case registered against him in connection with the Delhi Riots of February 2020.
His statement was recorded by NIA from Tihar as a witness in the trial before the Special NIA Court at Mumbai which is yet to commence.
The statement recorded by NIA forms part of the 'additional annexures' submitted to the Special Court as prosecution evidence for trial.
Describing the Elgar Parishad event, Khalid said that he did not receive any script for his speech and his speech was available for viewing on YouTube.
"Before delivering my speech at any place, I take local knowledge from any known person. No one had given me any script of speech for Elgar Parishad meeting. On stage of Elgar Parishad meeting, many persons were present that can been on YouTube. My speech is also available in YouTube." Khalid said.
On January 1, 2018, a day after the Elgar Parishad event, many persons related to the Elgar Parishad meeting were present in Justice Patil's house, Khalid's statement said.
"At about 11 hours, I came to know that BJP and RSS persons attacked on persons who came to visit Bhima Koregaon," he said.
Aside from the event, Khalid also submitted he knew Rona Wilson, who would come to deliver speeches in student movements in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) where he would talk about political prisoners.
"As per Rona Wilson, GN Saibaba is political prisoner, I have also attended the meetings of release for GN Saibaba. In meeting of release of political prisoner, I have seen Hany Babu, Gautam Navlakha and many others. I knew Arun Ferreira. I attended the function of inauguration of his book 'Colour of cage'," Khalid stated.
Wilson, Babu, Navlakha and Ferreira are all accused and presently in judicial custody in Taloja prison for their alleged involvement in the Bhima Koregaon case.
Khalid stated he was shown two letters by NIA - one written by comrade Rona in 2018 and one by comrade Prakash.
It was Khalid's stand that he had no clue why his name was mentioned in the letter of Rona and denied having any connections with Communist Party of India (Maoist).
"... the first letter which is shown to me, I have already seen it is in media and I don't know any this regarding why my name is mentioned in this letter. The second letter shown to me, which I have seen first time and I state that I don't have any connection with CPI (Maoist) party," he concluded his statement.
Apart from Khalid's statement, the documents submitted by NIA also contain statements of members of Bagaicha, a registered non governmental organisation, co-founded by late Father Stan Swamy.
Swamy one of the last arrest in the case passed away in July 2021 while in judicial custody since October 2020.
One of the senior members of the NGO was asked about Swamy's role in the organisation, to which it was stated that Swamy was one of the founding members of Bagaicha and had been with the organisation since the inception.
Swamy had a keen interest in education of students and on displacement issues of people and participated in demonstrations and rallies, the statement said.
One such programme was held by Visthapan Virodhi Jan Vikas Andolan (VVJVA), Jharkhand in Bagaicha and Swamy participated in those meetings, the witness said, adding further that VVJVA was later banned on the grounds that it is a Maoist group.
In the 2015 meeting held with Persecuted Prisoners Solidarity Committee (PPSC), allegedly a frontal organisation for CPI(M) the witness said that it was held to address the problems on undertrials. The participants included activist-lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj (also a co-accused in Bhima Koregaon) and other lawyers to discuss on the issue.
Swamy also participated in meetings held by the Peoples Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) (another alleged frontal organisation), the statement added.