|South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR), a regional network of human rights defenders, strongly condemns the cases filed against and imminent arrest of reputed author and Dalit scholar Prof. Anand Teltumbde.|
Prof. Anand Teltumbde, is currently a senior professor at the Goa Institute of Management and is well – known in India and globally for his scholarship.
The Government of the State of Maharashtra filed cases against him under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and resorted to arrest him despite the interim relief granted to him by the Supreme Court of India. SAHR is concerned that arrests under UAPA is normally used by the authorities as a means of keeping persons under prolonged detention while the cases are adjudicated in the courts.
The cases filed against him and the imminent arrest stem from the State and the Central Government’s attempts to silence scholars and activists by branding them as ‘Urban Naxals’. The branding is in total violation of international and national standards since it criminalises these persons by referring to their so called association and not on any actual crimes committed by them.
SAHR urges the Government of India to withdraw all charges against Prof. Teltumbde and others and thereby demonstrate its commitment to the rule of law and human rights.
On behalf of the members of South Asians for Human Rights:
|Details of the cases filed against Prof. Teltumde and others under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA): |
According to Pune Police, Prof. Teltumbde had supported the Elgar Parishad conclave held on 31 December 2017 to commemorate 200 year anniversary of Bhima Koregaon, of which the violent ambiance led to the fierce clashes at the Koregaon Bhima war memorial on 1 January 2018 between Dalits and Mahratha communities. On 8 January 2018 Tushar Damgude, reportedly a close confidant of Sambhaji Bhide, the right-wing leader lodged a police complaint alleging a Maoist conspiracy behind the violence on which the police registered a First Information Report (FIR) to arrest five activists Surendra Gadling, Rona Wilson, Sudhir Dhawale, Shoma Sen and Mahesh Raut, alleging that they were Maoists in June 2018.
After interrogating them the police again arrested In August, through a series of raids, activists Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Varavara Rao, Sudha Bharadwaj, and Gautam Navlakha being arrested in connection with the violence. At the same time, a raid had been conducted on Anand Teltumbde’s residence at the Goa Institute of Management when he and his family was not present in the house. Incidentally, the preliminary investigations had found a strong connection between Hindutva leaders Smabhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote and the Bhima Koregaon clashes occurred in January 2018.
The prosecution case against Prof.Teltumbde was based on five letters which allegedly linked him to violence in Elga Parishad and banned the political party, the Communist Party of India (Maoist). There was more evidence which was not revealed in the court due to ongoing investigations. Prof. Teltumbde’s counsel emphasised that none of these documents pointed out were recovered from the professor.
On 14 January 2019, Prof. Teltumbde’s petition to quash the FIR on him was dismissed by the Supreme Court on the basis that the allegations of him were of serious as they were under the UAPA. However, it granted him four weeks until 11 February to seek pre-arrest bail from a competent court. He filed a pre-arrest bail application in a special court in Pune. On 1 February it was rejected on the basis that new evidence has been uncovered to prove the Professor’s involvement in Naxalite activities. Consequently, Prof. Teltumbde was arrested on 2 February by the Mumbai police in the protection period given till 11 February and released on an order of the court which found the arrest in the protection period ‘lllegal’.