"Urban Naxal An Oxymoron," Says Activist Anand Teltumbde Accused In Koregaon-Bhima Case

Anand Teltumbde, a professor at Goa Institute of Management, is an accused in the Elgar Parishad-Koregaon Bhima case

Anand Teltumbde said that he wasn't even in Koregaon-Bhima when clashes broke out in the village.


It was horrific, said activist and academic Anand Teltumbde, who was arrested from Mumbai last week in the Elgar Parishad case only to be released hours later as the Supreme Court had provided him protection from arrest till February 11.

The Bombay High Court, which was hearing his request for protection from arrest, adjourned it till Monday after the prosecution asked for time to file a detailed affidavit opposing his anticipatory bail application. The government has time till February 11 to submit the affidavit.

Mr Teltumbde, a professor at Goa Institute of Management, is an accused in the Elgar Parishad-Koregaon Bhima case. The Pune police filed a case following violent clashes at Koregaon-Bhima village near Pune on January 1, 2018.

He was among the activists who were called "urban naxals" -- a term used to target those living in the cities, but secretly supporting seditious activities.

"Urban naxal is an oxymoron. The so-called Maoists don't belong to urban areas. It's a vague term that the government constructed to criminalise dissent. What they mean by urban naxals are people who are fighting for democratic rights," Mr Teltumbde told NDTV.

The activist was arrested on Saturday from the domestic terminal of the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport after his arrival from Kerala. He was detained by the Mumbai Police, who later handed him over to the Pune Police.

"I had gone to Cochin to deliver a lecture. I was coming to Mumbai for some court work, when I was detained at the airport. The Pune police came and took me away. I argued with them that I can't be arrested till February 11, but they didn't care," Mr Teltumbde told NDTV.

Anand Teltumbde's lawyer claimed the arrest was "illegal" as the Supreme Court in its January 11 order had provided the activist relief of four weeks which means he could not be arrested till February 11.

The sessions court in Pune agreed and released him later in the day.

Mr Teltumbde told NDTV that the cops didn't appear serious about the investigation as they just want to "harass us".

"It was a humiliating experience. There was no intimation. I was taken aback. They are clearly not interested in investigating anything. They had months to investigate -- from August 28 when they had first searched my place. But till now they haven't done anything. My wife and I have always cooperated and answered all their questions. They just want to harass us," Mr Teltumbde said.

According to Pune Police, Maoists were behind the Elgar Parishad conclave held at Shaniwarwada in Pune on December 31, 2017. Several activists made inflammatory speeches and provocative comments at the event, leading to violent clashes at the Koregaon Bhima war memorial the following day, police had said.

Several activists were named by the police in the First Information Report or FIR. Some of them, including Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj, P Varavara Rao and Gautam Navlakha, were initially put under house arrest after directions from the Supreme Court. However, all of them, except for Mr Navlakha, were arrested later.

In October last year, the Pune police registered another FIR, naming eight more activists, including Mr Teltumbde and Stan Swamy.

Mr Teltumbde, who the Pune police claim has links with Maoists, then filed a plea in the Bombay High Court, seeking cancellation of the complaint against him in the case. The Dalit scholar had said he was not part of anything illegal and he was in fact in Goa on December 31, 2017.

The Pune police, however, had objected to Mr Teltumbde's plea, saying they had adequate evidence against him. The court had refused to cancel the FIR.

Mr Teltumbde approached the Supreme Court in January and was allowed to file an anticipatory bail plea till February 11 this year.

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