Skip to main content

Urban Naxals? Teltumbde, Navlakha, others being 'incarcerated' for political beliefs

Anand Teltumbde
By Radhika Chitkara, Vikas Kumar*
The attempt to browbeat rights activists, Gautam Navlakha and Anand Teltumbde, to ‘surrender’ to the National Investigation Agency, amidst a nation-wide lockdown on account of Covid-19, marks a deep and scathing new low in the political history of contemporary India.
For over two years now, the Bhima Koregaon case, as it has come to be known, has been the mainstay for the State resorting to arrests of democratic rights activists, lawyers and journalists across the country – those who have been tirelessly raising issues of grave human rights violations in the dirty war being waged by the State in the forests at the heart of the country.
To arrest these 11 prominent individuals, the government has orchestrated a political conspiracy by relying wholly on the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and its ban provisions to link them with the banned CPI (Maoist) party. Projected as overground or ‘urban Naxals’, each of the accused, including Navlakha and Teltumbde, have been charged of hatching a conspiracy of carrying out a ‘Rajiv Gandhi like incident to end Modi-raj’.
The outrageous allegations against them range from procuring finances and weapons to recruiting cadres for unlawful activities. It bears remembering that the origins of these allegations lay in an entirely unconnected incident: The violence against Dalits at the Elgaar Parishad on January 1, 2018.
The FIRs relating to this violence have been selectively acted upon, such that the perpetrators of the violence, Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote, are still at large, while persons unrelated to the event and not named in the FIRs have been arrested and incarcerated for 18-20 months without bail.
None of the original FIRs make out these allegations against the accused, and the case of the police relies wholly on digital documents presented at press conferences, leaked to media houses and divulged in ‘sealed envelopes’ before the courts. Revelations regarding the unauthorized use of the Pegasus software against many of those arrested raises serious doubts on the authenticity of these digital documents.
Gautam Navlakha
Even the Supreme Court, in its dissenting opinion in August 2018, expressed doubts on the impartiality of investigations in the case and called for the constitution of a Special Investigative Team (SIT).
Just when the Maharashtra government decided to institute a SIT to probe into the dubious role of the police in this case in January this year, the Central government decided to hand over the case to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), an action that doubly confirms the political nature of this case. 
Those arrested are public minded individuals who have successfully brought to light untold misery being inflicted upon adivasis
The new FIR filed by the NIA mentions as accused the 11 arrested persons and unnamed ‘others’, leaving the possibility of further intimidation and arrests of more activists, journalists and lawyers in the case.
The role of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in furthering the claims of the police against the activists is also evident from the fact that none of the eleven accused have been allowed bail, regular, interim, medical or anticipatory, barring the one time when one of the accused was allowed to attend the cremation of her father.
Denial of bail is an essential part of the punishment under this law. For this law operates also as a vehicle for preventive detention, stealing away many years of life solely on the basis of charges framed by the police.
All of those arrested are public minded individuals who have successfully brought to light the untold misery and suffering being inflicted on adivasis by state forces and powerful vested interests. In many cases, the Supreme Court and the National Human Rights Commission recognized the illegalities committed by the government and the armed forces.
These 11 individuals and the organisations they are associated with have been taking up issues of workers, peasants and tribal rights, on issues of caste and communal violence, of development, displacement and the environment, of police firings, encounter killings and custodial violence.
Thus, conducting fact-finding missions, associating with the issues of the victims, providing them legal help has been part of the activities of these public minded individuals and the organisations they have been associated with. It is this engagement that is sought to be criminalized through these arrests.
Legally the Indian state may not recognize that there exists a category of political prisoners in the country, but through its actions of denying requests made for specific relief in times of Covid-19 by those implicated in this case, be it for extra time to surrender in case of Gautam Navlakha and Anand Teltumbde, or bail in case of 80 year old Varavara Rao or Shoma Sen, who is suffering from arthritis, the state has definitely shown that a dual system of justice does prevail when it comes to prisoners who have been incarcerated because of their political beliefs.
For us at the People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR), the fact that one of them, Gautam Navlakha, apart from being a well recognised journalist and author, also happens to be an active long-standing member of the organization, makes this process of state vengeance doubly disturbing.
PUDR expresses its solidarity with all those who have been falsely implicated in the Bhima Koregaon conspiracy case and demands their immediate release along with the repeal of UAPA.
---
*Secretaries, People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR)

Comments

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

By Our Representative
Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book, "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

RSS' 25,000 Shishu Mandirs 'follow' factory school model of Christian missionaries

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
The executive committee of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES) recently decided to drop the KISS University in Odisha as the co-host of the World Anthropology Congress-2023. The decision is driven by the argument that KISS University is a factory school.

India must recognise: 4,085 km Himalayan borders are with Tibet, not China

By Tenzin Tsundue, Sandeep Pandey*
There has as been a cancerous wound around India’s Himalayan neck ever since India's humiliating defeat during the Chinese invasion of India in 1962. The recent Galwan Valley massacre has only added salt to the wound. It has come to this because, when China invaded the neighbouring country Tibet in 1950, India was in high romance with the newly-established communist regime under Mao Zedong after a bloody revolution.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur*
Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Time to give Covid burial, not suspend, World Bank's 'flawed' Doing Business ranking

By Maju Varghese*
On August 27, the World Bank came out with a statement suspending the Doing Business Report. The statement said that a number of irregularities have been reported regarding changes to the data in the Doing Business 2018 and Doing Business 2020 reports, published in October 2017 and 2019. The changes in the data were inconsistent with the Doing Business methodology.

Delhi riots: Cops summoning, grilling, intimidating young to give 'false' evidence

Counterview Desk
More than 440 concerned citizens have supported the statement issued by well-known bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander ‘We will not be silenced’ which said that the communal riots in Delhi in February 2020 have not been caused by any conspiracy, as alleged by the Delhi Police, but by “hate speech and provocative statements made by a number of political leaders of the ruling party.”

Gujarat literati flutter: State Akademi autonomy curb a Sahitya Parishad poll issue?

By Dankesh Oza*
The 115-year-old Gujarati Sahitya Parishad is in election mode. More than 3,000 life members of the Parishad are set to elect its 52nd president and 40 plus central working committee (CWC) members, which in turn will elect its executive and two vice presidents, six secretaries and a treasurer for the coming three years (from 2021 to 2023).

WHO chief ignores India, cites Pak as one of 7 top examples in fight against Covid-19

By Our Representative
In a move that would cause consternation in India’s top policy makers in the Modi government, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organization (WHO) director-general, has singled out Pakistan among seven countries that have set “examples” in investing in a healthier and safer future in order to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

Agricultural reform? Small farmers will be more vulnerable, corporates to 'fix' price

By Dibyendu Chaudhuri*
Agriculture employs 42% of the total work force whereas it contributes only 16% to the country’s GDP. The average annual growth rate in agriculture has remained static to 2.9% since the last six years. This means that the post-green revolution conventional agriculture has reached its peak. Responsiveness of soil fertility to fertiliser application, an indicator of stagnancy in agriculture, shows declining trend since 1970. The worst sufferer has been the small and marginal farmers who constitute 86% of total farmers.