A special court on Saturday, 25 April, remanded Dalit activist and scholar Anand Teltumbde to judicial custody in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist link case, rejecting his plea for temporary bail, which he sought in view of the COVID-19 outbreak.
This comes even as a spokesperson from the department disclosed that an assistant sub-inspector (ASI) at the NIA’s Mumbai office has tested positive for Covid-19. All staff members who had come in contact with the ASI have been asked to self-quarantine, ANI reported quoting the spokesperson.
In his bail application, Teltumbde said he was suffering from respiratory problems and was at risk of contracting the deadly infection while in prison. The court, however, rejected his plea.
The National Investigation Agency had arrested the Dalit scholar on 14 April after he surrendered before it following the Supreme Court's directives. He was kept at the NIA’s Mumbai office for the 11 days where he was interrogated by several officers. However, the NIA claimed that Teltumbde did not come in contact with the infected officer and was anyway tested after the officer’s health condition was know, reported The Wire.
Teltumbde, the grandson-in-law of Dalit icon Dr BR Ambedkar, was produced before special NIA court judge AT Wankhede, who remanded him to judicial custody.
Teltumbde, civil rights activist Gautam Navlakha and nine others, have been booked under stringent provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for allegedly having Maoist links and conspiring to overthrow the BJP-led government.
The activists were initially booked by the Pune police following violence that erupted at Koregaon-Bhima in the district in 2017.
According to police, the activists made inflammatory speeches and provocative statements at the Elgar Parishad meet held in Pune on 31 December 2017 that triggered violence the next day.
The activists have also been accused of being part of various banned Maoist groups. The probe was later transferred to the NIA.
(With inputs from PTI)