While the world is engaged in the biggest struggle for survival in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, while all of us are under the most unprecedented lockdown in our history, officers of the Indian government are very busy, making every effort possible to ensure that two prominent public intellectuals, Dr Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha, are locked down behind bars tomorrow, silenced and robbed of the freedom to speak out and voice their dissent.

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Dr Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha

On 16 March 2020, a Supreme Court bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra and Mukeshkumar Rasikbhai Shah rejected the anticipatory bail pleas of Gautam Navlakha and Anand Teltumbde, in relation to the violence at Bhima Koregaon in January 2018. Navlakha and Teltumbde were booked by the Pune Police under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for alleged Maoist links in 2018. The Supreme Court asked Navlakha and Teltumbde to surrender on 6 April. On 8 April, the Supreme Court granted the activists Gautam Navlakha and Anand Teltumbde one week to surrender in the Bhima Koregaon case, registered under the draconian UAPA.

They will join the nine human rights activists, lawyers and academics already in jail on charges levyied against them under sections of the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act for the violence that broke out in Bhima Koregaon in 2018.  They remain in jail, despite multiple petitions, representations and appeals about the lack of evidence linking them to the violence and despite strenuous efforts to point out that the real perpetrators of the violence – the members and leaders of right-wing hindutva groups – are freed on bail, charged under the relatively milder provisions of the Indian Penal Code.

In an open letter, Dr Teltumbde said :

In the name of ‘nation’ such draconian legislations that denude innocent people of their liberties and all constitutional rights are constitutionally validated. The jingoist nation and nationalism have got weaponised by the political class to destroy dissent and polarize people. The mass frenzy has accomplished complete derationalization and inversion of meanings where destroyers of the nation become deshbhakts and selfless servers of people become deshdrohis.

As I see my India being ruined, it is with a feeble hope that I write to you at such a grim moment. Well, I am off to NIA custody and 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.

(Click here for entire letter)

In an interview with Committee to Protect Journalists, Gautam Navlakha said he believes he is being targeted for his work as a journalist and a human rights activist. CPJ said that Indian authorities should stop pursuing the arrest of journalist Gautam Navlakha, and should cease holding journalists in jail during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Prominent Dalit leaders and political representatives have condemned the SC’s order to arrest Anand Teltumbde on Ambedkar Jayanti, in the Bhima Koregaon case. The full, unedited text of the statement is below.


Jai Bhim!

Coinciding with the upcoming Ambedkar Jayanti, Dr. Anand Teltumbde , one of India’s foremost public intellectuals and the strongest legatee of Babasaheb Ambedkar’s tradition of struggling for a truly democratic India, will be complying with the Supreme Court’s order to surrender to the jail authorities. He will be surrendering on the 14th April 2020, between 12 noon – 2 pm at the Sessions Court in Mumbai. This is both tragic and shameful for all Dalits, Adivasis, OBC, and minorities on many counts for all of India.

It marks a day

– on which this country will celebrate the 129th birth anniversary of one of its greatest minds and hearts, Dr. BabasahebAmbedkar and on which the mighty nationalist machinery seeks to crush the spirit that kept the flame of democracy alive in our midst;

– when even very repressive regimes around the world are releasing  political prisoners in the face of the Corona virus, great minds like Dr. Teltumbde are incarcerated;

– when we allow the Constitutional rights of such a person like Dr. Teltumbde to be sidelined;

– when the arrest of Dr. Teltumbde will be an obnoxious warning of the casteistManuvadiregime to Dalit, Adivasi, OBC and minority intellectuals not to raise their voices of protest.

This arrest reveals India’s deeply entrenched casteism for a ‘crime’ Dr.Teltumbde has not committed and for which no proof has been produced.

We, the undersigned, call upon the Dalit, Adivasi, OBC, and minority leadership to stand up and seek justice in the finest of traditions that Babasaheb has bequeathed to us. As Dr. Teltumbde writes in his latest book The Republic of Caste, “The wrath of the wretched scares the world.“ It becomes our duty to come together at this hour and demand that the Indian authorities allow Dr. Teltumbde to live and write, to be a free spirit that enlivens our democratic selves, and remain the beacon that he is for educating, organizing, and agitating for a better India and a better world.

Let’s unite in the name of Dr. BabasahebAmbedkar.

Jai Bhim!


Dr. THOL THIRUMAVALAVAN, MP, Founder-President, ViduthalaiChiruthaigalKatchi

RAJA, MP (Rajya Sabha), General Secretary, Communist Party of India

JIGNESH MEVANI, Independent MLA Vadgam (Gujarat)

Dr. UDIT RAJ, Ex-MP, Indian National Congress

PRAKASH AMBEDKAR, Ex-MP, VanchitBahujanAghadi

RAVIKUMAR, MP, General Secretary, ViduthalaiChiruthaigalKatchi

VINAY RATAN SINGH, National President, Bhim Army Bharat Ekta Mission

NAUSAD SOLANKI, MLA, Gujarat, Indian National Congress

Prof. Dr. SUJATHA SUREPALLY, Convenor, Bahujan Resistance Forum, Telangana

Dr. RAJKUMAR CHABBEWAL, MLA (Hoshiyarpur, Punjab), Indian National Congress



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