Professor Anand Teltumbde was arrested by the Pune Police in the early hours on Saturday, 2 February in connection with the Elgar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon violence case for his alleged links with the banned CPI-Maoist.
The arrest was however termed “illegal” and Teltumbde was released by a Pune Sessions Court later in the day.
Additional Sessions Judge Kishor Vadane noted that the Supreme Court had given him protection from arrest for four weeks, that is till 11 February, so that he could approach the competent authority for legal relief. However, his plea seeking to quash FIR against him was rejected by the SC.
Who Is Anand Teltumbde?
An engineer, professor, Dalit scholar, reputed author and civil rights activist – Anand Teltumbde is also one of the activists booked by the Pune Police for allegedly inciting caste-based violence at Bhima Koregaon on 1 January 2018.
While nine activists have already been arrested in connection with the case, the Supreme Court on 14 January rejected Teltumbde’s appeal to quash the FIR against him. The apex court, on the other hand, has given him four weeks to seek pre-arrest bail from the trial court.
If the professor fails to get the pre-arrest bail in the next 20 days, he could be arrested by the Pune Police under the much-debated Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. A Pune court has asked the prosecution in the Elgar Parishad case to file its response on the anticipatory bail application of Teltumbde on 29 January.
Teltumbde: The Writer & Activist
Regarded as a “prolific writer’’, Anand Teltumbde’s books, which mainly deal with issues of Dalits, have been translated into many Indian languages. He has also authored extensively for English and Marathi publications, commenting on contemporary issues.
An engineering graduate, he is also an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad (IIM-A). Teltumbde has formerly taught at the Indian Institute of Technology (Kharagpur), and is now a senior professor at the Goa Institute of Management.
“Truth be told, I have enjoyed being at once in the belly of the beast and fighting it, of sitting in the board rooms of companies and also holding aloft red flags. The world outside threw far bigger challenges than the most complex problems I encountered in the cocooned corporate world. Experiencing both caste as well as class struggles, knowing dire poverty first hand in my village, being part of both the bourgeoisie as well as the proletariat, has led me to conclude that no radical change is possible in India without confronting caste.”Excerpt from Teltumbde’s ‘Republic of Caste’
As an activist, professor Teltumbde dons many hats. He is the General Secretary, Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR), Maharashtra and an Executive Member of Coordination of Democratic Rights Organisation (CDRO) and a presiding member of All India Forum for Rights to Education (AIFRTE).
An Open Letter Seeking Public Support
On 16 January, two days after the apex court rejected his appeal to quash the FIR, Teltumbde wrote an open letter, appealing for public support.
In the letter, he claimed that contrary to Pune Police’s claims, he was not involved in the Elgar Parishad meet that was organised on 31 December 2017, one day before the violence broke out. He also said that the Elgar Parishad was an “innocuous event” that was wrongly connected to the violence.
“It is not that the vindictive State apparatus in India has been criminalising innocent people to protect thieves and looters of this country that made this country most unequal in the world, but the manner in which it created the current criminal farce out of an innocuous event called Elgar Parishad in Pune on 31 December 2017, to incarcerate select human rights defenders, intellectuals and activists in peoples’ movements to curb dissent in the country is unprecedented in its nakedness and blatant abuse of power.”Anand Teltumbde in an open letter
He added that the solidarity of the public would not only lend him strength but also give a message to the “fascist rulers that there are people in India who say no to them.”
Support Pours in for Teltumbde
Following his open letter, 29 alumni and faculty members of IIM-Ahmedabad issued a support statement, expressing their support. According to the statement published in Scroll.in:
“A public intellectual who has made selfless contributions to the nation through his scholarship, can be under the threat of imprisonment on the basis of extremely questionable and prima facie motivated evidence”.
Speaking at an event condemning Teltumbde’s impending arrest, retired judge BG Kolse Patil said:
“We have not met Teltumbde so far and he has no connection whatsoever with Elgar Parishad. However, his name has been included in the investigation as a conspiracy and it baffles us. We have filed a bail application before the lower court seeking Teltumbde’s release, but we are sure that it will not be granted. He has no role in Elgar Parishad and injustice is being meted out to him which prompted us to take up his case.”Kolse Patil, Retired Judge
Prominent individuals from Pune city, including retired judges, social workers, union leaders, leftist and Ambedkarite organisations, activists, writers were a part of this event.
Activist Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd, who claims that Teltumbde and him do not see eye-to-eye on ideological front, voiced his support for the activist-professor in a column in The Hindu.
“If he is arrested for disagreeing in writing on the causes behind the Bhima-Koregaon incident, that would rank among the most significant cases of overreach by law enforcement. The unjust arrest of an intellectual may not cause the loss of votes in a democracy such as ours, but it could lead to a rebellion against the forces of elitist chauvinism.”Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd
Twitter Flooded With #StandWithAnand
On Tuesday, 22 January, a Twitter storm #StandWithAnand was started to call for people to express their solidarity against Teltumbde’s charges.
From vouching for his academic credibility to calling him the ‘voice of dissent’, Twitter was flooded with #StandWithAnand tweets.
Here are some sample tweets:
(With inputs from Scroll.in, Hindustan Times.)