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. Over 300 members of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, signed a statement demanding Teltumbde’s acquittal. The full, unedited text of the statement is below.
Over 300 members of the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA) community have signed a solidarity statement in 2 days with their illustrious alumnus, Dr. Anand Teltumbde who apart from being a corporate leader and teacher has contributed immensely to the cause of social justice. Teltumbde is expected to surrender himself by April 6 in accordance with the Supreme Court verdict.
This letter of support, signed in their individual capacity, by more than 300 students, staff, alumni and faculty members of IIMA is their expression of how valued and respected Teltumbde is at IIMA. “We have been fortunate to have him as a guest speaker on several occasions, at seminars, in courses and major annual events hosted by the students' council. He is a role model for so many of us, faculty and students alike. Its rare to find someone from IIMA with such a distinguished corporate career, to stand up for democracy and social justice. He provides our campus with a guiding hope for a better future for this country.” The signatories to this letter have expressed their shock at his treatment by the police, the unfairness and incredulousness of the accusations and called for better wisdom to prevail. This effort to voice their stands has been spearheaded and supported by hundreds of students (and only few of the many could be reached due to the lockdown), most of whom would have read his work, heard about him or attended his lectures on the campus, whom are very concerned about him as well as the injustice it bodes for expression of dissent.
We, as part of the IIM Ahmedabad community in our individual capacities are very concerned at the prosecution of Professor Anand Teltumbde, our alumnus and one of India’s foremost public intellectuals. Prof Teltumbde has always promoted the struggle for empowerment of India’s Dalit communities, rights which are granted in the constitution of India.
On March 16, 2020, the Supreme Court of India rejected the anticipatory bail application of Dr Teltumbde and ordered his ‘surrender’ by the 6th of April, 2020. We strongly urge the Chief Justice of India and the Supreme Court to take cognizance of the dangers posed by the pandemic COVID-19 to the health and life of Dr Teltumbde, a senior citizen with pre-existing health conditions and at a high risk of infection, if imprisoned. Incarceration at such a time will most definitely endanger his life. Professor Teltumbde has been fully cooperating with the investigating authorities and poses no flight risk. At the very least, we urge the judicial authorities to amend the arrest order to a date post the subsiding of the global health crisis, so that there is no danger to his life.
This letter from his daughters speaks volumes about his predicament: https://caravanmagazine.in/crime/anand-teltumbde-daughters-letter-as-we-look-parents-eyes-only-pain
Professor Teltumbde has been charged under a draconian law- the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967, which does not require a trial or conviction. A comment on the Act may be found here: https://indiacivilwatch.org/uapa/
The charges against him are framed through the ‘Bhima Koregaon’ case, which has been stated in a report as full of irregularities and violating the human rights of those charged under that case. (Refer American Bar Association’s report documenting irregularities and violations of the freedom of expression and association in this case: https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/human_rights/JD/Asia/preliminary-report-india-bhima-koregaon.pdf and a more recent investigation pointing to the fabricated nature of the evidence).