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Who is Anand Teltumbde, and why was he arrested recently?

BANGALORE, 16/04/2011: Scholar Anand Teltumbde at an interview with The Hindu, in Bangalore on April 16, 2011. Photo: V. Sreenivasa Murthy

BANGALORE, 16/04/2011: Scholar Anand Teltumbde at an interview with The Hindu, in Bangalore on April 16, 2011. Photo: V. Sreenivasa Murthy  

Academic and columnist Anand Teltumbde is not only one of India’s foremost public intellectuals, he is also someone known for speaking truth to power. In his column ‘Margin Speak’ in the Economic and Political Weekly, he has been scathing in his criticism of the Narendra Modi government, especially over issues of social welfare, communal harmony, and the persecution of social activists.

Why was he arrested?

On August 29 last year, Mr. Teltumbde himself became the target of state action when law enforcement officials raided his home in Goa, where he is a faculty member of the Goa Institute of Management. The raid was reportedly in connection with his alleged links to the Bhima Koregaon violence of January 1, 2018. The Maharashtra police also claimed that he was involved in a Maoist plot to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It booked him under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, a law that makes it extremely difficult for the accused to obtain bail. Mr. Teltumbde has rubbished these allegations. He approached the Supreme Court to have the First Information Report (FIR) against him quashed. On January 14 this year, the Supreme Court refused to quash the FIR, but gave him four weeks to apply for anticipatory bail. On February 1, a Pune court rejected his application for anticipatory bail, with the additional sessions judge K.D. Vadane observing that “there is sufficient material collected by the investigating officer to show the involvement of the present accused in the commission of the offence.”

Mr. Teltumbde then appealed to the Bombay High Court, and it was while he was travelling to Mumbai to meet his lawyer that the Pune police arrested him at the airport at 3.30 a.m. on February 3. The arrest sparked immediate outrage on social media as the Supreme Court’s protection against arrest was in force till February 11. When he was produced in court later that day, the same judge who had rejected his bail application ordered his immediate release, noting that the Supreme Court’s order “is an umbrella protection for four weeks and [Mr.] Teltumbde can avail himself of all options available to him within this period.”

Where does he hail from?

Mr. Teltumbde was born in a small village called Rajur in Maharashtra’s Yavatmal district. After a degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Ph.D. in cybernetic modelling, he enjoyed a successful career as a management professional. But alongside that, Mr. Teltumbde was a civil rights activist. In his writings, he combines an Ambedkarite perspective with a Marxist understanding of political economy. His books, most notably Khairlanji: A Strange and Bitter Crop and Republic of Caste, are a searing indictment of the Indian republic’s failure to seriously confront the challenges of caste violence and injustice.

Where does he stand?

On January 1, 2018, when lakhs of Dalits gathered at the Bhima Koregaon war memorial to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the 1818 Battle of Koregaon, violence broke out, and one person was killed. The police said the violence was incited by participants of the Elgaar Parishad, held by 260 non-profit groups on December 31, 2017 in Pune’s Shaniwar wada. Ten activists and intellectuals were arrested on the charges of having Maoist links, instigating the Bhima Koregaon violence and plotting to assassinate the Prime Minister. The police want to add Mr. Teltumbde to the list of arrested suspects.

What lies in store?

On February 11, the Bombay High Court extended Mr. Teltumbde’s interim protection against arrest till February 22. Mr. Teltumbde has maintained that the charges are fabricated, and represent nothing but an attempt to clamp down on dissent.

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Printable version | Mar 29, 2020 7:54:56 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/who-is-anand-teltumbde-and-why-was-he-arrested-recently/article26292219.ece

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