Mumbai: 

Human rights activist and scholar Anand Teltumbde, an accused in the Elgar Parishad case, was arrested on Tuesday by NIA after he surrendered at its Mumbai office. He was remanded in NIA custody by a special court till April 18.

Activist and co-accused Gautam Navlakha surrendered before NIA in Delhi. He will be produced before a court on Wednesday. Their anticipatory bail pleas were rejected by the Supreme Court on March 16 and they were told to surrender.

Accompanied by wife Rama and brother-in-law Prakash Ambedkar, Teltumbde, 70, arrived at the NIA office on Peddar Road at around 1.30pm. Rama and Ambedkar are the grandchildren of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, and the entourage came to the office from Rajgruha, Ambedkar’s house. A black flag was hoisted at the building before Teltumbde left on Tuesday, the 129th birth anniversary of Babasaheb Ambedkar.

Seeking 10-day custody of Teltumbde, special public prosecutor Prakash Shetty claimed that investigations had revealed he had links with the Communist Party of India (Maoist), a banned terrorist organisation, and had received funds from its central committee.

The NIA also claimed that documentary evidence revealed that Teltumbde was the convenor of Elgar Parishad, an event that took place at Pune on December 31, 2017. The investigating agency alleged that the speeches made there led to the violence at Bhima Koregaon on January 1, 2018. “It is revealed that there is conspiracy hatched by the accused who promoted enmity between the caste groups and led to violence resulting in the loss of life and statewide agitation,” the remand plea said.

The NIA added that Teltumbde’s call records showed he was in contact with the arrested accused as well as present at the place of offence at the relevant period. Nine activists — Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Shoma Sen, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Varavara Rao — were arrested in the case.

The NIA said it hadn’t got a chance to interrogate Teltumbde as he had procured various interim protection orders from the courts. It sought the court’s permission to use handcuffs on Teltumbde to help avoid physical contact with him amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Activist and scholar Anand Teltumbde was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Tuesday after he surrendered before it in connection with the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case.

Teltumbde surrendered at the NIA office at Cumbala Hill in south Mumbai following the Supreme Court’s directives. He was subsequently arrested by the NIA and shall be produced before a court here shortly, an official said.

Earlier, the activist arrived at the NIA office at Cumbala Hill in south Mumbai along with his wife Rama Teltumbde and brother-in-law and Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar.

Anand Teltumbde is the grandson-in-law of Dalit icon Dr BR Ambedkar, whose 129th birth anniversary is being observed on Tuesday.

Civil rights activist Gautam Navlakha, a co-accused in the case, also surrendered before the NIA in Delhi. His anticipatory bail plea was also rejected by the apex court.

According to the official, Navlakha will be produced before the court in Mumbai through video conference.

The Supreme Court on 17 March this year rejected the pre-arrest bail pleas of Anand Teltumbde and co-accused and civil rights activist Gautam Navlakha, and directed them to surrender before the investigating agency.

Teltumbde, Navlakha and nine other civil liberties activists have been booked under the stringent provisions of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for having alleged Maoist links and conspiring the overthrow the government.

The apex court while rejecting Teltumbde and Navlakha’s bail pleas on 17 March, directed them to surrender before the prosecuting agency withing a period of three weeks. The duo later sought extension of the time.

On 9 April, the Supreme Court extended the time by one week by way of last chance.

The activists were booked initially by Pune Police following violence that erupted at Koregaon-Bhima there. According to police, the activists made inflammatory speeches and provocative statements at the Elgar Parishad meet held in Pune on 31  December, 2017, which triggered violence the next day.

The police also said these activists were active members of banned Maoist groups.

The case was later transferred to NIA. Teltumbde and Navlakha were given interim protection by the Bombay High Court while their pre-arrest bail pleas were being heard. After the high court rejected their applications, the duo approached the Supreme Court.

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