India arrests activist Anand Teltumbde over 2018 caste violence

A group of photographers rushed towards an entourage of five vehicles that emerged on the eerily deserted streets of south Mumbai in India’s Maharashtra state.

Prominent intellectual and author Anand Teltumbde, wearing a mask to protect himself from coronavirus, disembarked from the vehicle to surrender to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Tuesday.
Teltumbde, who would turn 70 in July, is accused of having links with the extreme-left Maoist rebels and conspiring against the government, including “plotting the assassination” of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Legal experts and activists said the charges are fabricated and aimed at targeting the critics of Modi’s right-wing government.

Another activist, Gautam Navlakha, 67, also surrendered over similar charges in capital New Delhi on Tuesday.
Arrested on Ambedkar’s birth anniversary

Teltumbde is the grandson-in-law of Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar, a towering Dalit (the former untouchables) leader and the architect of India’s constitution.

Ironically, Teltumbde’s arrest coincided with Ambedkar’s 129th birth anniversary. During his surrender, the activist was accompanied by Ambedkar’s grandson, Prakash Ambedkar, who called it a “fraud case”.

On the eve of his arrest, Teltumbde wrote an open letter to the people of India, in which he said, “I 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.”

Leading intellectuals, economists and legal experts had written to Chief Justice of India, Sharad Bobde, to “restore public confidence in our constitution and the civil liberties that it guarantees to all citizens” by stopping the arrests of Teltumbde and Navlakha.

On Sunday, senior journalists and writers held a video conference and called it a “witch-hunt” against the two activists.

Writing about Teltumbde’s imminent arrest, his daughters Prachi and Rashmi wrote in the Caravan magazine, “As we look into our parents’ eyes, we see only pain.”

“Since we heard the verdict, it feels like life has come to a halt,” they wrote.
Teltumbde, who would turn 70 in July, is accused of having links with the extreme-left Maoist rebels and conspiring against the government, including “plotting the assassination” of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Legal experts and activists said the charges are fabricated and aimed at targeting the critics of Modi’s right-wing government.

Another activist, Gautam Navlakha, 67, also surrendered over similar charges in capital New Delhi on Tuesday.
Arrested on Ambedkar’s birth anniversary

Teltumbde is the grandson-in-law of Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar, a towering Dalit (the former untouchables) leader and the architect of India’s constitution.

Ironically, Teltumbde’s arrest coincided with Ambedkar’s 129th birth anniversary. During his surrender, the activist was accompanied by Ambedkar’s grandson, Prakash Ambedkar, who called it a “fraud case”.

On the eve of his arrest, Teltumbde wrote an open letter to the people of India, in which he said, “I 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.”

Leading intellectuals, economists and legal experts had written to Chief Justice of India, Sharad Bobde, to “restore public confidence in our constitution and the civil liberties that it guarantees to all citizens” by stopping the arrests of Teltumbde and Navlakha.

On Sunday, senior journalists and writers held a video conference and called it a “witch-hunt” against the two activists.

Writing about Teltumbde’s imminent arrest, his daughters Prachi and Rashmi wrote in the Caravan magazine, “As we look into our parents’ eyes, we see only pain.”

“Since we heard the verdict, it feels like life has come to a halt,” they wrote.

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