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Sixteen individuals across India have been arrested since 6 June 2018 under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). They are human rights defenders working for the democratic rights of India’s poorest and most oppressed: Dalits, Adivasis, indigenous people, and women. All of them have been outspoken critics of Hindutva.
Arsenal, an international team of forensic analysts, conducted an independent evaluation of a clone of the computer, hard drive, and associated USB drive of Rona Wilson’s, one of the BK 16 political prisoners. The forensic report by Arsenal found that the computer was compromised for over twenty-two months and that the attack was intended for two reasons: surveillance and planting incriminating documents using Netwire, a remote access malware infrastructure. The top 10 documents used in the charge sheet against Rona Wilson and other BK 16 political prisoners were all planted by the attackers For each of the ten documents, Arsenal was able to identify the time and date of creation and the specific session during which files were planted.
The report also makes it clear that the attack was deliberate and meticulously planned by a well-resourced agency. In the report, Arsenal characterizes this attack as “one of the most serious cases of evidence tampering” ever encountered by his team. Aresenal’s Mark Spencer characterised the attack as “one of the most serious cases of evidence tampering.” Since the report was published, Rona Wilson has approached the Bombay High Court with a plea to quash the FIR against him and the other Bhima Koregaon political prisioners. The plea states that “he and the co-accused are being prosecuted with mala fide intentions, institutional support, with politically motivated agenda, through which they have amplified the institutional bias against the him and other co-accused. He is being targeted for his political views through fabricated and false evidence.”
The investigation raises some difficult questions about the nature of charges, the evidence and the procedural improprieties that characterize the prosecution of the BK16 political prisoners.