Guest Post by MRSD ( Mumbai Rises to Save Democracy)
Statement by MRSD on Supreme Court’s rejection of pre-arrest bail plea of Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha in the Bhima Koregaon violence case
Mumbai Rises to Save Democracy (MRSD) is deeply disappointed with the Supreme Court’s rejection of the plea by Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha seeking anticipatory bail in the cases registered against them in relation to the violence at Bhima Koregaon on 1st January 2018. Their arrest is imminent in next three weeks. Nine other activists and intellectuals who have been accused in this case and charged with sections of the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) have been imprisoned since 2018.
The top court’s order to deny interim bail is alarming given that the case against the activists is based on very thin evidence. Moreover, the cyber forensic analysis by credible investigative journalists and technical experts discredit the evidence used by Pune police to incriminate the activists. The analysis reveals that the letters which were allegedly recovered from the hard disk of Rona Wilson, one of the nine activists accused in the case, and used by the police to link the accused to a banned political party are most likely to have been planted in the disk through use of malware which allowed remote access to Wilson’s computer (https://caravanmagazine.in/politics/bhima-koregaon-case-rona-wilson-hard-disk-malware-remote-access). This clearly indicates manipulation of evidence and the fabricated nature of the case.
The government is sparing few chances for truth to emerge in this case. In January 2020, more than a year after the chargesheets were filed by the Pune police, the Union Home ministry got the case suddenly transferred to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and thus brought the case under its control at a time when the Home department in the newly formed Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra had announced a review of the case, setting up of a Special Investigating Team (SIT) and dropping of the false cases against the activists.
While full-blown attempts are being made by the government to incriminate the eleven intellectuals in a fabricated case, the investigation into the role of Hindutva brigade led by Milind Ekbote and Manohar Bhide in carrying out planned organised attacks on Dalits at Bhima Koregaon has come to a standstill. The state government’s failure to set up a SIT shows that the real perpetrators of violence are being shielded from prosecution.
These developments in the case and now the rejection of pre-arrest bail to two of the stalwarts of the democratic rights movement in the country on the grounds of what is not just flimsy but manipulated evidence shows the desperation of the government to repress democratic voices and spread a sense of fear amongst those who oppose the anti-people policies and actions of the Hindutva Fascist regime. MRSD extends its solidarity to the eleven activists who have been relentless defenders of human rights and people’s movements in this country and who now stand wrongly accused in this conspiracy case. We also reiterate our resolve to continue to struggle for their release and for the pursuit of truth about the violence unleashed on the peaceful Dalit-Bahujan masses at Bhima Koregaon.
Participating Organisations: People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL), Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR), National Trade Union Initiative (NTUI), Trade Union Centre of India (TUCI), Student Islamic Organisation (SIO), Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle (APPSC) – IIT Mumbai, Co-ordination Of Science And Technology Institute’s Student Association (COSTISA), LEAFLET, Police Reforms Watch, NCHRO, Bebaak Collective, Forum Against Oppression of Women (FAOW), LABIA- A Queer Feminist LBT Collective, Jagrut Kamgar Manch (JKM), Majlis, Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy (IMSD), Women against Sexual Violence and State repression (WSS), Bharat Bachao Andolan (BBA), Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF), People’s Commission for Shrinking Democratic Spaces (PCSDS), Human Rights Law Network (HRLN), Cause Lawyers Alliance, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), Nivara Hakk Suraksha Samiti, Kashtakari Sanghatna – Palghar, Sarvahara Jan Andolan – Raighad, Jagrut Kashtkari Sanghatana, students from various colleges in Mumbai including Homi Bhabha Research Centre, St.Xaviers and Tata Institute of Social Sciences.
It is rather difficult to begin when you know that within a few days or weeks, one of your close friends could be behind bars under one of the most draconian laws crafted by this Republic.
The world knows him as Anand Teltumbde, but for me he has always been Anand.
Merely four months ago, we were together in a seminar in Vijayawada (Andhra Pradesh) where Anand spoke on one of his key concerns, namely, the divergence between dalit and Left movements. Continue reading My Friend Anand
Guest Post by AIFTRE
AIFRTE condemns threatened arrest of Prof. Anand Teltumbde
Professor Anand Teltumbde, an IIM-Ahmedabad alumnus, IIT Professor, Executive Director of BPCL, Ex-MD & CEO of Petronet India, Senior Professor and Chair, Big Data Analytics in GIM, author of 26 books, columnist in EPW, writer of innumerable articles, a noted scholar of caste-class and public policy issues, Leading Public Intellectual and Democratic and Educational Rights Activist faces imminent threat of arrest as an ‘Urban Maoist’ in the vilest post-independence plot by the state.
The criminal farce of exploiting an important day of commemoration for the Dalits, the anniversary of the battle that took place at Bhima-Koregaon in 1818 in which the Mahar soldiers played a leading role in defeating the Peshwa rulers, to incarcerate select human rights defenders, intellectuals and activists in peoples’ movements and curb dissent in the country is an unprecedented and blatant abuse of power.
Justice P B Sawant, retired judge of the Supreme Court and Justice B G Kolse-Patil, ex-judge of the Bombay High Court invited activists and progressive intellectuals to the Elgar Parishad on 31 December 2017 at Shaniwarwada to mobilize people against the communal and casteist policies of the NDA government led by the BJP. More than 250 organizations joined, including some Maratha organizations who had never before aligned politically with the Dalits. This alarmed the power obsessed BJP, which responded by commissioning its agent provocateurs, Milind Ekbote of Samastha Hindutva Aghadi and Sambhaji Bhide of Shiv Chhatrapati Pratishan, to create a rift between Dalits and Marathas.
At the end of the conference, participants took an oath not to vote for the BJP and to protect the constitution of India. The entire conference was video-recorded by the police as well as by the organizers. Nothing untoward took place at the conference and all the delegates dispersed peacefully.
On 1 January, when Dalits congregated at Bhima-Koregaon, the Hindutva goons mounted a planned attack pelting stones from the terraces of houses lining the road, beating people and burning stalls. The police merely looked on, establishing the administration’s complicity. Rumours that mischief was planned were widespread among common people, but the administration had feigned ignorance and allowed riots to happen. WhatsApp messages showed saffron flag bearers shouting slogans in the name of Ekbote and Bhide chasing and beating the Dalits who were caught unawares.
On 8 January, one Tushar Damgade, an RSS functionary and a disciple of Sambhaji Bhide, filed an FIR naming Kabir Kala Manch activists for organizing the Elgar Parishad, claiming that inflammatory speeches caused the violence on 1 January.
Nine days after the conference, the police began working according to this scripted plan. They raided houses of specific people and insinuated that Maoists had funded and organized the Parishad, ignoring the public statements by Justice Kolshe-Patil and in the chargesheet attached a statement attributed to Justice Sawant, which he has publicly denied.
Anand Teltumbde is a noted Bombay-based Dalit intellectual who also wears the hat of a business executive. He has written this book about the lynching of a Dalit family in a Maharashtra village in 2006 to ensure that the incident is not easily erased from memory. He quotes Milan Kundera: “The struggle against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.” In other words, he sees this book as being a seminal work on the Khairlanji atrocity.
The book begins with Abel Meeropol’s song Strange Fruit, written in 1936 (and not 1939, as the book incorrectly states) about the lynching of two black youth. It is from this song that the book derives its sub-title, “A Strange and Bitter Crop,” which once again reinforces the book’s ambition. Billie Holiday’s rendition of Strange Fruit (in 1939) soon became an anthem for the anti-lynching movement in the US, but does Teltumbde’s book achieve its ambitious goal?
The book’s first chapter is a narration of the events of 29 September 2006, when Bhaiyyalal Bhotmange’s family was lynched to death. The atrocity is reduced in this narrative to a dry report, as if it were from the file of a district magistrate. Sample this: Continue reading A review of Anand Teltumbde’s “Khairlanji: A Strange and Bitter Crop”