Teltumbde’s arrest on Ambedkar Jayanti is a national shame: Dalit politicians

Prominent Dalit leaders and political representatives have condemned the Supreme Court’s order to arrest activist and scholar Anand Teltumbde on Ambedkar Jayanti, in the Bhima Koregaon case.

“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,” the joint statement signed by Dalit leaders including Dr. Thol Thirumavalavan MP and President, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK), D. RAJA, MP and General Secretary, Communist Party of India (CPI), Gujarat MLA JIGNESH MEVANI, former MP and Congress leader Udit Raj and Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) chief and ex-MP Prakash Ambedkar.

“It marks a day when even very repressive regimes around the world are releasing political prisoners in the face of the Coronavirus, great minds like Dr. Teltumbde are incarcerated,” the statement reads.

“It marks a day on which this country will celebrate the 129th birth anniversary of one of its greatest minds and hearts, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar and on which the mighty nationalist machinery seeks to crush the spirit that kept the flame of democracy alive in our midst,” Dalit leaders said in a statement which is also signed by VCK MP D. Ravikumar, Bhim Army Bharat Ekta Mission chief Vinay Ratan Singh, Congress MLA in Gujarat Nausad Solanki, activist and scholar Dr. Sujatha Surepally and Congress MLA in Punjab Dr. Rajkumar Chabbewal.

Teltumbde is married to B.R Ambedkar’s granddaughter.

The signatories have called upon Bahujan leaders to stand up and demand justice for Teltumbde.

On 16 March 2020, a Supreme Court bench comprising the judges Arun Mishra and Mukeshkumar Rasikbhai Shah rejected the anticipatory bail pleas of the civil-rights activist Gautam Navlakha and the writer 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.

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