PEN Delhi notes with deep concern the renewed threat of arrest that is hanging over the head of well-known writer, professor and academic Dr Anand Teltumbde, who currently faces a threat of arrest on a number of baseless charges.
“Dr Teltumbde is a leading public intellectual, a democratic and educational rights Activist and the kind of human being we in India should be proud of. In his rejoinder to the affidavit against him filed by the police, Dr Teltumbde has refuted all allegations and there is no reason why he shouldn’t be granted bail,” said Urvashi Butalia, PEN Delhi President.
Born to parents who were poor Dalit farm labourers, Dr Teltumbde has educated himself, earning scholastic merit while continuing to work and write for poor and Dalit citizens of India.
A First Information Report (FIR) was filed against him by the Pune police last year, accusing him of involvement in inciting violence at the Bhima Koregaon public meetings organized by Justice PB Sawant, retired judge of the Supreme Court and Justice BG Kolse-Patil, ex-judge of the Bombay High Court. The first FIR related to this case was filed on the 8th of January, 2018, and did not have Dr Teltumbde’s name. His name was added, without further reasons, on the 21st of August, 2018.
The truth of the matter is that Dr Teltumbde was not even present at this occasion, and indeed had declined to be involved when asked because he was too busy with his academic engagements. In fact, he had written an article critiquing an aspect of the way in which Bhima Koregaon was being commemorated, and stuck his ground despite angry responses, in the spirit of a true intellectual.
Dr Teltumbde appealed to the Supreme Court, seeking the FIR against him to be quashed, but on the 14th of January, the Supreme Court rejected his appeal, while giving him a time period of a month to seek pre-arrest bail from the competent court, i.e. the Sessions Court in Pune. Notably, the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act bars a Court from granting bail to an accused individual as long as the police chargesheet, taken on its own terms, makes out a prima facie case. If bail is not granted, Dr Teltumbe could face up to years of incarceration in prison.
PEN Delhi believes these charges to be trumped up and calls on the relevant authorities to drop all charges immediately and unconditionally. If they will not, they should at least grant Dr Teltumbde pre-arrest bail and a fair trial. PEN Delhi also appeals to everyone to join this plea. A petition to prevent Dr Teltumbde’s arrest can be found here: https://www.change.org/p/prime-minister-narendra-modi-quash-the-false-fir-and-not-to-arrest-professor-dr-anand-teltumbde-65826336-d1a2-44f0-84a9-2eb95e6f5211.