Activist and scholar Anand Teltumbde was arrested today by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) after he surrendered in Mumbai, days after being denied relief by the Supreme Court in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon violence.
An engineer and a graduate of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) who taught at IIT Kharagpur, Anand Teltumbde has been accused of Maoist links and of conspiring against the government. He was booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act or UAPA for the violence after the Elgar Parishad meet in Pune on December 31, 2017.
Based on searches carried out in the homes of various activists at the time, Mr Teltumbde was accused of a role in a plot to assassinate the Prime Minister.
"Since August 2018, when the police raided my house in the faculty housing complex of the Goa Institute of Management, my world has turned completely topsy-turvy. Never in my worst dreams could I imagine the things that began happening to me," Mr Teltumbde wrote in an open letter before surrendering.
"In my voluminous writings comprising over 30 books, and numerous papers, articles, comments, columns, interviews, published internationally, not an insinuation of support to violence or any subversive movement could be found. But at the fag end of my life, I am being charged with heinous crimes under the draconian UAPA," he wrote.
"As I see my India being ruined, it is with a feeble hope that I write to you at such a grim moment. Well, I am off to NIA custody and do not know when I shall be able to talk to you again. However, I earnestly hope that you will speak out before your turn comes."
Nine other activists and lawyers have been jailed for over two years in the case. The police alleged the activists had made inflammatory speeches and provocative statements at the Elgar Parishad meet, which it said triggered violence the next day. The police also said they were active members of banned Maoist groups.
"I am implicated on the basis of the five letters among the 13 that the police purportedly recovered from the computers of two arrestees in the case. Nothing has been recovered from me. The letter makes reference to 'Anand', a common name in India, but the police unquestioningly identified it with me," Mr Teltumbde wrote.
Mr Teltumbde and another activist and co-accused Gautam Navlakha were given interim protection by the Bombay High Court while their pre-arrest bail pleas were being heard. After the High Court rejected their applications, the two approached the Supreme Court. On March 17, the Supreme Court rejected their pleas and directed them to surrender within three weeks.
The case was handed over to the NIA earlier this year after a tussle between the centre and Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. The Pune police had withheld the alleged recovered documents from the NIA in the absence of a clearance from the state government, but later did so after the Chief Minister cleared the move.