The Pune Sessions Court on Saturday ordered the release of writer and academic Anand Teltumbde hours after he was arrested from the Mumbai airport in connection with the violence that broke out last year in Bhima Koregaon. The court called his arrest illegal.
“I welcome the decision. But what police has done, the arrest and all the drama, is objectionable.” Teltumbde told reporters, according to ANI.
Teltumbde’s counsel Rohan Nahar told the court that the Pune Police’s action was in contempt of the top court’s order. “The entire action taken by Pune Police is illegal and contemptuous,” Nahar said, according to The Indian Express. “A plain reading of the order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court will denote that the protection offered to the said accused [Teltumbde] is in force till February 11.”
Teltumbde was arrested on Saturday, a day after a court in Pune rejected his anticipatory bail application. The Supreme Court had on January 14 granted Teltumbde protection from arrest for four weeks and allowed him to approach the competent authority for regular or pre-arrest bail. The protection was set to expire on February 11. Teltumbde’s counsel had said they would file an appeal in the Bombay High Court but he was arrested before he could approach the High Court.
Five activists – Shoma Sen, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Rona Wilson and Sudhir Dhawale – were arrested by the Pune Police in June and five more – Gautam Navlakha, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Varavara Rao – were arrested in August. They were accused of being involved in an event that preceded the violence between Dalits and Marathas at Bhima Koregaon. The five activists arrested in August 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 and of having links with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist).
After the Supreme Court rejected Teltumbde’s appeal to quash the FIR on January 14, he wrote an open letter to the public, asking for support. A group of Ambedkarite organisations, alumni of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, and the All India Forum For Right To Education have extended support to the activist and demanded the withdrawal of charges against him.