Senior advocate and former Additional Solicitor General, Indira Jaising has criticised Maharashtra police for arresting prominent Dalit intellectual and academic, Professor Anand Teltumbde, asserting that he was taken into custody in “gross violation” of the Supreme Court’s order.
“Dr Anand Teltumbde arrested at 3:30 am at Mumbai airport by Pune police in gross violation of the Supreme Court order giving him protection from arrest till 11th February. This is contempt of the order of the Supreme Court of India,” Jaising said, demanding that Teltumbde be released immediately.
On Friday, a court in Pune had rejected Teltumbde's anticipatory bail plea, with the judge noting the investigation had collected sufficient evidence against him. Teltumbde had approached the Pune court after the Supreme Court had rejected his plea to quash an FIR naming him as an accused in the case of the Bhima-Koregaon violence. However, the top court had extended the period of interim protection from arrest to four weeks from January 14.
“The period of four weeks will include the period during which he can appeal, outer limit of four weeks must be respected,” Jaising added, questioning, “Why the obscene haste? The FIR was registered in January 2018, Dr Teltumbde was not arrested, so the haste was only to defeat (his) right of appeal.”
Several left groups and activists in Maharashtra have also cried foul and claimed Teltumbde's arrest was “illegal” as it was allegedly executed by the police despite the apex court’s “protection from arrest” granted to the activist till February 14.
Activist Kavita Krishnan accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the ruling BJP of being behind Teltumbde's arrest. She termed the “midnight knock” to arrest him as “a sure sign of India's descent into fascist hell”.
The Pune police arrested Teltumbde from the Mumbai airport early on Saturday. He was accosted and then arrested from the domestic terminal of the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport around 3.30 a.m. by the police team waiting for him. They whisked him off to Pune.
He is likely to be produced before a court later in the day.
Teltumbde, who teaches at the Goa Institute of Management, had filed for anticipatory bail in a Pune Sessions Court. However, it was rejected on Friday paving way for the police action.
He has been charged of having links with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) and also with the Elgaar Parishad, which allegedly triggered the January 1, 2018 caste riots and violence in Koregaon-Bhima in Pune.