In the early hours of February 2nd, Dalit scholar Anand Teltumbde was arrested by the Mumbai Police before handing him over to the Pune Police later on the same day. Teltumbde who is associated with the Goa Institute of Management as a professor was detained at the Mumbai Airport as soon as he arrived from Kerala, due to his involvement in the Elgar Parishad Case.
Background of the Case
On December 31st 2017, the Elgar Parishad conclave was held, where Teltumbde had given out speeches in support of the Elgar Parishad. According to Pune Police, the conclave was supported and funded by Maoists. His inflammatory speeches resulted in violent clashes at the Koregaon Bhima War Memorial on the following day. Over thousands of people who mostly belonged to the Dalit community were injured in the violence. Teltumbde, who happens to be a known “voice in the anti-caste discourse” had penned an article for The Wire the next day, calling the battle and celebrations “a myth”, as reported by The Wire on 2nd February, showing how the premise of the case had various flaws. Further, it was alleged that he had connections with the banned CPI-Maoists. He was named an accused in the case which was filed on January 1st 2018, after the brutal clashes. Along with nine others, Teltumbde was accused under two charges, as reported by The Wire- “For allegedly plotting to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and for allegedly inciting mob violence on the Dalits who had visited Bhima Koregaon on January 1st last year.”
The Supreme Court’s Orders so far
Teltumbde was arrested the day after a special court rejected his application for anticipatory bail. The Supreme Court rejected his plea to quash the FIR against him. The court, however, had granted him protection from arrest for four weeks after his first arrest i.e. till February 12, so that he could arrange for his legal relief after approaching an adroit legal authority. Despite the protection granted to Teltumbde, police arrested him during the protection period, on February 2nd. The police arrested him on the grounds that the prosecution had submitted sufficient evidence material in the Pune court regarding Teltumbde’s involvement in Naxalite activities. However, the Supreme Court ordered his release a few hours after his arrest as it was “illegal” considering his protection period was not over.
After his release, Teltumbde said, “I welcome the decision. But what police has done, the arrest and all the drama is objectionable.”, as reported by TOI.
Others Arrested in the Case-
Following Supreme Court orders, various other left-inclined activists were put under house arrest regarding the same case between June and August 2018. The names in the FIR include Vernon Gonsalves, P Varavara Rao, Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira and Gautam Navlakha. Out of the ten accused, nine of them were re-arrested following the apex court’s orders, after their court relief period had expired, except Gautam Navlakha.
On February 5, Aruna Pai, representative of Pune Police in a statement before a bench of Justice NW Sambre declared that Pune Police will not arrest Teltumbde till February 12 midnight, as reported by the HuffPost.
Sources- HuffPost, TOI, The Telegraph Online Edition, DNA, Hindustan Times, The Wire.
Image Credits: TOI, Defence-Aviation Post, The Indian Express, Hindustan Times