A group of alumni of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, on Sunday issued a statement in support of activist Anand Teltumbde, who has been charged in connection with the violence at Bhima Koregaon on January 1 last year.
The Supreme Court had on Monday refused to quash a first information report the Pune Police have filed against the activist. Last month, the Bombay High Court had dismissed a petition filed by Teltumbde seeking to quash the FIR and granted him interim protection from arrest for three weeks.
Teltumbde’s IIM Ahmedabad batchmates claimed that the charges against him are false. “As alumni and faculty members, we are proud not only of Professor Teltumbde’s achievements in the corporate world but also of the extremely rich scholarship he has produced on a diverse range of topics, including the Constitution of India,” the statement read.
“We are alarmed that a public intellectual who has made selfless contributions to the nation through his scholarship, can be under the threat of imprisonment on the basis of extremely questionable and prima facie motivated evidence,” they said.
The signatories to the letter said that the Pune Police’s decision to invoke the “draconian” Unlawful Activities Prevention Act against Teltumbde is a threat not only to him but to “all of us”.
“Teltumbde has contributed significantly to the cause of social justice and his actions have been in the interest of strengthening Indian democracy,” the letter said. “We are concerned about the repression faced by persons who speak for social justice, and those who serve as role models for the aspiring youth.”
On January 18, a group of Ambedkarite organisations had demanded the withdrawal of “fabricated charges” against Teltumbde. They had said that the Pune Police released “fabricated letters” addressed to “Comrade Anand” as evidence, but Teltumbde had refuted all the charges with documentary proof.
Five activists – Shoma Sen, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Rona Wilson and Sudhir Dhawale – were arrested by the Pune Police in June 2018 and five more – Gautam Navlakha, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Varavara Rao – in August 2018. They were accused of being involved in an event that preceded the violence between Dalits and Marathas at Bhima Koregaon near Pune on January 1, 2018. They were subsequently placed under house arrest. Teltumbde and activist Stan Swamy’s homes and offices were searched.
The arrested activists are accused of masterminding the violence in Bhima Koregaon and of having links with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist).