‘Denial of bail to Navlakha, Teltumbde alarming’

Case based on thin evidence, say human rights activists

Published - March 20, 2020 02:13 am IST - Ajeet Mahale

Gautam Navlakh

Gautam Navlakh

Several prominent city-based organisations fighting for human rights and civil liberties called the recent Supreme Court verdict denying anticipatory bail to noted activists Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha “alarming”.

A statement released Mumbai Rises to Save Democracy (MRSD), an umbrella collective of over 40 groups and organisations in the city, said that it was deeply disappointed with the SC’s rejection of the plea, which had also been rejected by the Bombay High Court.

Nine other activists and intellectuals who have been accused in this case and charged with sections of the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) have been imprisoned since 2018.

“The top court’s order to deny interim bail is alarming given that the case against the activists is based on very thin evidence,” the statement said, adding that the government was sparing few chances for truth to emerge in this case.

“While full-blown attempts are being made by the government to incriminate the eleven intellectuals in a fabricated case, the investigation into the role of Hindutva brigade led by Milind Ekbote and Manohar Bhide in carrying out planned organised attacks on Dalits at Bhima Koregaon has come to a standstill. The Sstate government’s failure to set up a SIT shows that the real perpetrators of violence are being shielded from prosecution,” the statement said.

In January 2020, the case was transferred to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) even as the newly-formed Maha Vikas Aghadi government announced a review of the case and the setting up of a Special Investigating Team (SIT).

“These developments in the case and now the rejection of pre-arrest bail to two of the stalwarts of the democratic rights movement in the country on the grounds of what is not just flimsy but manipulated evidence shows the desperation of the government to repress democratic voices and spread a sense of fear amongst those who oppose the anti-people policies and actions of the Hindutva Fascist regime. MRSD extends its solidarity to the eleven activists who have been relentless defenders of human rights and people’s movements in this country and who now stand wrongly accused in this conspiracy case,” the statement said.

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