On 16 March 2020, a Supreme Court bench comprising the judges Arun Mishra and Mukeshkumar Rasikbhai Shah rejected the anticipatory bail pleas of the civil-rights activist Gautam Navlakha and the writer Anand Teltumbde, in relation to the violence at Bhima Koregaon in January 2018. Navlakha and Teltumbde were booked by the Pune Police under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for alleged Maoist links in 2018. The Supreme Court asked Navlakha and Teltumbde to surrender on 6 April.
On 16 March, our father’s fate for the next few years was decided by the Supreme Court of India. The state lays in wait to incarcerate him on 6 April—a fact that we never imagined we would be speaking or writing about.
Since we heard the verdict, it feels like life has come to a halt, even as each day whizzes by in a deluge of calls and visits from well-wishers offering their sympathies and support. Sleepless nights and tired eyes have become routine occurrences. A constant feeling of frustration, restlessness and helplessness has set in, as our family tries desperately to cope with the situation. This is what an arrest of an innocent man does to his family and dear friends.
What started in August 2018 with a press conference where flimsy evidence in the form of fabricated letters bearing the words “Comrade Anand”—and no further details—were flashed in front of news cameras has now evolved into our father’s impending arrest. When we look back at the series of events, only two questions arise: first, how can our father be implicated solely because he happens to have the same first name with someone mentioned in a letter retrieved from another person? How did the mention of an “Anand” become linked to our father, Dr Anand Teltumbde? The second question that frustrates us is the application of the UAPA law itself–why should an innocent man face incarceration without the option of a bail, with not a shred of real evidence against him? What bothers us is that the state can blatantly snatch away the constitutional rights and civil liberties of our father and the other accused, while the trial that will ultimately decide if they indeed committed a crime stretches on for years to come.