17/01/2019 12:17 PM IST

'Hopes Stand Completely Shattered': Activist Anand Teltumbde Writes Open Letter

Arundhati Roy has extended her support, saying arresting Teltumbde will silence a powerful and unique Dalit voice.

Hindustan Times via Getty Images
A file image of Anand Teltumbde.

After the Supreme Court on Monday refused to quash Pune Police’s FIR against Anand Teltumbde, the civil rights activist has written an open letter to the public, seeking support.

The apex court bench, on Monday, extended the interim protection from arrest granted to Teltumbde by the Bombay High Court by four weeks.

The activist has been named in the FIR for his alleged role in the Bhima Koregaon violence and for what police allege are links to Maoists. 

In his letter, carried by The Wire, Teltumbde said that all his hopes of the charges against him being proved as criminal fabrication “stand completely shattered”. He also said that the “time has come to build a visible campaign in support of me from various sections of people so as to save me from imminent arrest.”

While saying that there is not an iota of unlawful activities in either his “voluminous writings or selfless activism”, Teltumbde added that his entire academic career and corporate career has been without a single blemish and is an exemplar of integrity of the highest degree.

He went on to say, “it is not that the vindictive State apparatus in India has been criminalising innocent people to protect thieves and looters of this country that made this country most unequal in the world, but the manner in which it created the current criminal farce out of an innocuous event called Elgar Parishad in Pune on 31 December, 2017, to incarcerate select human rights defenders, intellectuals and activists in peoples’ movements to curb dissent in the country is unprecedented in its nakedness and blatant abuse of power.”

Teltumbde termed it the “vilest plot in post-Independence India that the state has hatched against its detractors in vengeance, disbanding every democratic decency”.

 He also appealed to the public, saying “your standing in solidarity with me will not only lend me and my family strength to endure this torture but also may give a message to the fascist rulers that there are people in India who say NO to them.”

He asked the people to create a signature campaign, issue statements, write articles, and create a visible public outrage against this “vilest farce” and to support him.

“The case has reached a crucial point where all my innocent beliefs stand shattered and I am devastated by the prospect of imminent arrest.”

Teltumbde had approached the apex court against the 21 December 2018 Bombay High Court order which dismissed his plea to quash the FIR.

The police allege that many activists had made inflammatory speeches and provocative statements at the Elgar Parishad event, leading to the violence. The police have been accused of trying to shield Hindutva activists who, eyewitnesses have said, were responsible for starting the violence.

Several activists were named in an FIR lodged on 8 January 2018.

Eight more activists, including Teltumbde, were named in another FIR filed in October 2018.

Some of the activists arrested in connection with the event are Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj, P Varavara Rao and Gautam Navlakha.

Arundhati Roy says ‘an illness is upon us’

Activist Arundhati Roy, writing for Scroll, said Teltumbde has been charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, which means he can be held without bail for months together on the basis of little or no evidence.

The crimes he has been accused of, she wrote, are beyond preposterous. Calling Teltumbde “one of our most important public intellectuals”, she said that “to arrest him is to try and silence a powerful and unique Dalit voice with an unimpeachable intellectual track record.”

Roy further said that his impending arrest “cannot but be seen as a political act”. “An illness is upon us.”

(With PTI inputs)