Teltumbde is one of the activists booked by police for allegedly inciting caste-based violence at Bhima Koregaon.(Photo Courtesy: YouTube Screengrab)
A group of Canadian organisations has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind, requesting them to drop all charges against Dr Anand Teltumbde, a reputed author and civil rights activist who was booked by the Pune Police for allegedly inciting caste-based violence at Bhima Koregaon on 1 January 2018.
The letter states that the charges against Teltumbde are patently fabricated and adds that he faces imminent arrest “as a so-called ‘Urban Naxalite’ (or Maoist) under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).”
People arrested under this act face years of incarceration without trial, the letter said.
The Dr Ambedkar Memorial Lecture Committee (comprising these Canadian organisations, namely Institute for the Humanities, Simon Fraser University; Department of Asian Studies, Centre for India and South Asia Research, and the Robert HN Ho and Family Foundation Program in Buddhism and Contemporary Society at the University of British Columbia; Chetna Association of Canada; and the Dr Hari Sharma Foundation for South Asian Advancement) had invited Teltumbde to deliver the Dr Ambedkar Memorial Lecture in Vancouver and Surrey in 2016.
“We appeal to the Government of India in the name of justice, democratic freedom, and the rule of law that the charges against Teltumbde be dropped unconditionally and that the ten human rights activists currently in jail be released immediately and unconditionally,” the groups added in the letter.
Re: Appeal to Drop All Charges against Dr. Anand Teltumbde
Dr Anand Teltumbde, an alumnus of the prestigious Indian Institute ofManagement-Ahmedabad, Executive Director of Bharat Petroleum CorporationLtd., Ex-MD & CEO of Petronet India, former Professor of BusinessManagement at IIT-Kharagpur, currently Senior Professor and Chair, Big DataAnalytics in Goa Institute of Management, author of 26 books, columnist inthe premier social studies journal in India,Economic and Political Weekly ,writer of innumerable articles, a noted scholar of caste-class and public policyissues, public intellectual and human rights activist faces imminent arrest as a so-called ‘Urban Naxalite’ (orMaoist) under the draconian UnlawfulActivities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). The charges against him are patentlyfabricated. People arrested under this act face years of incarceration withouttrial.Dr. Teltumbde recently has introduced a post-graduate course in Big DataAnalytics in Goa that is the first of its kind in India. As a member of the Dalitcommunity born in humble circumstances, Dr. Teltumbde has always stood insupport of the struggles of the underprivileged and has been a guiding forcein the movement for accessible education in India.Dr. Teltumbde has travelled extensively to lecture on Dr. Ambedkar and theDalit struggle. It was in order to give such lectures that he was invited bythe Dr. Ambedkar Memorial Lecture Committee, comprising the Institute forthe Humanities, Simon Fraser University; Department of Asian Studies,
Centre for India and South Asia Research, and the Robert H. N. Ho andFamily Foundation Program in Buddhism and Contemporary Society at theUniversity of British Columbia; Chetna Association of Canada; and the Dr.Hari Sharma Foundation for South Asian Advancement, to deliver the Dr.Ambedkar Memorial Lecture in Vancouver and Surrey in 2016.
This wasfollowed by lectures in Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal.Dr. Teltumbde’s home in Goa was raided in his absence without any noticeby the Poona Police on August 28, 2018. At the same time in simultaneousraids in several cities, the homes of others, including a priest, were similarlyraided and five writers, lawyers, civil-rights activists, and an octogenarianpoet, were arrested and continue to be incarcerated. Before this, in June2018, five other individuals, including academics, lawyers, and civil anddemocratic rights activists, were arrested and also remain incarcerated.
These raids and arrests follow from the organization of a peaceful publicmeeting on 31st December 2017, co-organized by retired Supreme CourtJustice P. B. Sawant and retired justice B. G. Kolshe Patil of the BombayHigh Court, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Last Anglo-Maratha battle, which took place at Bhima-Koregaon, Maharashtra,India, where large numbers of Dalit soldiers were martyred. The publicmeeting drew attention to the communal and casteist policies of the BJP. Dr. Teltumbde was invited to a planning meeting for this public meeting but,in the end, attended neither the planning meeting nor the public meeting.The charge against the others arrested and that facing Dr. Teltumbde is thatthey collaborated with Maoists and that the public meeting was funded byMaoists.
For these charges there is not a shred of credible evidence. Thepolice have also concocted a conspiracy to assassinate the Prime Ministerimplicating these dissident intellectuals and defenders of human rights. Thepeople already in jail on charges similar to those against Dr. Teltumbde are:Arun Ferreira, Gautham Navlakha, Mahesh Raut, Shoma Sen, Rona Wilson,Sudha Bharadwaj, Sudhir Dhawale, Surendra Gadling, Varavara Rao, andVernon Gonsalves. We, the undersigned, appeal to the Government of India in the name of justice, democratic freedom, and the rule of law that the charges against Dr.Teltumbde be dropped unconditionally and that the ten human rightsactivists currently in jail be released immediately and unconditionally.Signed:
The Organizing Committee for the Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Memorial Lecture(SFU/UBC):Chinmoy Banerjee (Dr. Hari Sharma Foundation)Ajay Bhardwaj (University of British Columbia)Jai Birdi (Chetna Association of Canada)Samir Gandesha (Simon Fraser University)Harinder Mahil (Dr. Hari Sharma Foundation)Jessica Main (University of British Columbia)Anne Murphy (University of British Columbia)Sara Shneiderman (University of British Columbia)Other Canadian Organizations:India Civil Watch Canada (ICW Canada)South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy (SANSAD)CERAS MontrealDemocracy, Equality and Secularism in South Asia Winnipeg (DESSA)Punjabi Literary and Cultural Association WinnipegUnifor Canada