On January 2, management professional, academician, author & activist Anand Teltumbde was “illegally” arrested by the Maharastra’s Pune police. The activist who has been named as one of the main accused for inciting violence at the time of Bhima Koregaon and for plotting to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi was released on the same day after a Pune sessions court’s release order terming the arrest illegal.
Last month on January 14, the Supreme Court had refused to quash an FIR filed against Teltumbde, however, it granted him four weeks of protection from arrest. The court had given him time till February 11 to acquire regular/pre-emptive bail from a lower court in Pune. But the Maharashtra police on Saturday arrested the renowned scholar at 3:30 am from the Mumbai airport, which amounts to contempt of the Supreme Court.
“The Supreme Court order gave him (Teltumbde) interim protection from arrest for four weeks. The police have violated his rights by arresting him before the term got over, as the court announced today,” said advocate Lara Jesani soon after the activist was released, reported The Indian Express.
The Bhima Koregaon case
The strings of Teltumbde’s arrest are attached to violence that took place on January 1, 2018. On December 31 2017, an event Elgaar Parishad was organised by human rights organisations in Pune a day before the 200th anniversary of the battle of Bhima Koregaon. This day is celebrated because on the same day on January 1, 1818, the British and Peshwa(Upper caste) had fought a battle at Bhima Koregaon, a village near Pune, Maharashtra in which the British troops having Dalits in its contingent won over the Peshwas.
Last year during the Bhima Koregaon event, violence broke out which left one killed and several injured in Maharashtra. The police claimed that there was reportedly involvement of “Maoist elements” in the organisation of the Elgar Parishad, where provocative remarks were made which might have led to the violence that followed.
Arrest of the activists
Following this on August 28, Maharashtra police conducted a series of raids across the country. Houses of prominent activists, lawyers and writers were raided by the Pune police in Mumbai, Delhi, Ranchi, Goa and Hyderabad. By the end of the day, many prominent activists were arrested by the police and were branded as “Urban Naxals”. Reportedly, the searches and detentions were carried out under the anti-terror Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and Sections 153A, 505(1)(b), 117, 120(b) and 34 of the Indian Penal Code. Now Teltumbde is the tenth person to be arrested by the police, who allege that Teltumbde and the others arrested were plotting to kill PM Modi and had also incited mob violence on the Dalits who had visited Bhima Koregaon.
While Teltumbde was named as one of the accused of Bima Koregaon violence the reports says that he did not attend the Elgar Parishad event due to ideological differences. Soon after the court’s order, Teltumbde spoke to The Wire. “The state is making it very clear. They are not going to allow any opposing voice. Anyone challenging them would be thrown behind bars. There is no rule of law anymore in this country,” he said.
“Urban Naxal” Teltumbde is a renowned scholar, activist and lawyer
Like other activists who were arrested, Teltumbde is an academician, author and activist. He has been working for the suppressed and marginalised people for decades now. An Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmadabad alumnus, he has been teaching data analytics at the Goa Institute of Management for the past two years.
Apart from the activism work that Teltumbde has been doing from his college days, he has been a brilliant student. After doing his MBA from IIM Ahmadabad, he did his PhD in Cybernetics Modeling from the University of Mumbai and his fellowship in the same subject from Cybernetic Society of America.
He then worked as an executive director of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL), following which he became the managing director and CEO of Petronet India Limited. The Pune-based public intellectual then started teaching in country’s premier B-schools. During all this time Teltumbde has been critical about the anti-people policies of the government through his writings.
He has authored many books – Past, Present and Future, Mahad: The Making of the First Dalit Revolt, The Persistence of Caste: The Khairlanji Murders and India’s Hidden Apartheid. In his recent book Republic of Caste, Teltumbde has written about many social issues prevailing in India, “inequality in the time of neoliberal Hindutva”. He has also been part of the Democratic Rights Movement and has been general secretary of the Committee for the Protection of Democratic Rights.
On the arrest, Anand said the arrest of him is part of a larger conspiracy against intellectuals and people who fight for democratic rights. He said, “This is the face of an urban Naxal? I have been an activist since student days…. It is not a question of a few fellows getting arrested or incarcerated. This means this could happen to anyone.”