A National Investigation Agency court on Friday rejected the bail plea of academic Anand Teltumbde, who is an accused in the Elgar Parishad case, the Hindustan Times reported.

Teltumbde and activist Gautam Navlakha had surrendered before the NIA court on April 14. But the NIA failed to file a chargesheet within 90 days of his arrest. On July 19, the special NIA court had granted the agency an extension of 90 days to file the chargesheet. Teltumbde filed a plea challenging this decision and asked the court to take this application before the special court on record and treat it as a petition for default bail.

On April 1, the special court had rejected the temporary bail plea of activists Varavara Rao and Shoma Sen, two other accused in the Elgar Parishad case. In their bail plea, the activists said they were suffering from multiple ailments and were vulnerable to coronavirus because of their age and medical history.

Earlier this month, Rao, 80, was tested for the coronavirus and found positive, following which he was shifted to JJ Hospital from Taloja Jail in Mumbai. On July 20, Rao’s lawyer told the Bombay High Court that the Telugu poet-activist is “almost on his deathbed”.

Sen, 61, is still lodged at the Byculla women’s prison. Teltumbde and activist Vernon Gonsalves had asked the court to allow them to get tested for the coronavirus, as they had been sharing a jail cell with Rao.

Bhima Koregaon and Elgar Parishad cases

On January 1, 2018, violence erupted between Dalits and Marathas near the village of Bhima Koregaon in Maharashtra’s Pune district, where lakhs of Dalits had converged to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Koregaon. Dalit Mahar soldiers fighting for the British Army had defeated the Brahmin Peshwa rulers of the Maratha empire in the battle in 1818.

The commemoration took place a day after an event in Pune called the Elgar Parishad was organised. One person died in violence during a bandh called by Dalit outfits on January 2. The Pune Police claimed that the violence in Bhima Koregaon was the result of speeches made at the Elgar Parishad event. They alleged that banned Maoist groups organised the event, and a first information report was filed in the matter.

In June 2018, the Pune Police arrested Surendra Gadling, Shoma Sen and Mahesh Raut from Nagpur, Sudhir Dhawale from Mumbai, and Rona Wilson from Delhi, alleging that they had links to the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) organisation, and played a role in organising the Elgar Parishad event. In August 2018, the police arrested five more activists – Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Varavara Rao and Gautam Navlakha. Teltumbde had at the time managed to stay out of prison by getting reprieve from the judiciary.

They were later also accused of involvement in a nationwide Maoist conspiracy to destabilise democracy, overthrow of the government by setting up an “anti-fascist front” and plotting to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The two cases were being investigated by the Pune Police, but earlier this year, the Centre transferred the Elgar Parishad inquiry to the NIA.