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 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 8 April, the Supreme Court granted the activists Gautam Navlakha and Anand Teltumbde one week to surrender in the Bhima Koregaon case, registered under the draconian UAPA. The All India Forum for Right to Education organised a virtual press conference on 6th April 2020 to register its strongest condemnation of the impending arrest of Prof. Anand Teltumbde. The full, unedited text of the statement is below.
All-India Forum for Right to Education organised a virtual press conference on 6th April 2020 to register its strongest condemnation of the impending arrest of Prof. Anand Teltumbde, Member Presidium of AIFRTE and Senior Professor and Chair Big Data Analysis, Goa Institute of Management, on April 6, 2020. The Supreme Court had denied him anticipatory bail on the demand of the NIA although he had been fully co-operating with investigating agencies.
Notwithstanding the pandemic generated national lockdown, the activists and intelectuals associated with AIFRRTE took up a vigorous public campaign in solidarity with Prof. Anand Teltumbde. Initiating the press-conference, AIFRTE Organising Secretary Dr Vikas Gupta informed that keeping in view the ongoing nationwide lockdown, a massive social media and online campaign has been initiated by AIFRTE in support of Prof Anand Teltumbde. This includes an online petition signed by more than 2000 persons including leading intellectuals; twitter messages shared by more than 15,000 persons including many celebrities; and a hunger strike by nearly 45 people in the country on 6th April (Annexure 2). On humanitarian grounds under covid-19 Pandemic, and given the questionable charges against him, AIFRTE has forwarded a petition signed by almost two thousand citizens to the President and the Chief justice of India to stop Prof. Teltumbde’s arrest and further to drop the ill-conceived case against him while also appealing to the Prime Minister and the Central Home Minister to issue instructions to the concerned authorities accordingly. Several organisations from Punjab also expressed solidarity with Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha (Annexure 3).
The conference was addressed by Prof. Jagmohan Singh (Ludhiana, Punjab), Chairperson, AIFRTE; Prof. G. Haragopal (Telungana), Presidium Member of AIFRTE (in absentia, statement in Annexure 1); Prof. Madhu Prasad (Delhi University, Spokes Person, AIFRTE( in absentia, statement in Annexure 1); Prof. K. Chakradhar Rao (Hyderabad), Member, Presidium, AIFRTE; Prof. Anil Sadgopal (Bhopal/former Dean, Faculty of Education, DU), Member, Presidium, AIFRTE; Sh. Ramesh Patnaik (Guntur, Andhra Pradesh), Member, Presidium, AIFRTE; Prof. Nandita Narain (former President, DUTA and FedCUTA, Delhi); Prof. Ganesh Devy (Dharwad, Karnataka), President, Rashtra Sewa Dal (in absentia, statement in Annexure 1); Prof. Hanibabu MT (Delhi University); Prof. Chaman Lal (Delhi), Former Professor, JNU & Chairperson, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Study Group; Prof. Manoranjan Mohanty (Bhubaneswar), Former Professor, Delhi University and Council for Social Development; and others.
The speakers highlighted that the state action against Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha is part of a larger pattern of state assault on the democratic rights and liberties of the people and on principles of equity and justice that lie at the very foundation of our republic. They underlined the need for all democratic and progressive forces to come together and welcomed their joint action in this campaign as a positive sign. They underlined that the case against Anand Teltumbde is not based on any information or documentation found in his possession. It relies only on reference to someone referred to as Anand in a letter found on the computer of Rona Wilson. The veracity of the documents found on the computer are themselves in doubt as experts have discovered the possibility of remote access to and planting of documents in the said computer. As such any documents sourced from this computer can hardly be treated as ‘evidence’.