April 15, 2020 4:10:35 am
Academic Dr Anand Teltumbde and activist Gautam Navlakha were arrested by the National Investigation Agency Tuesday after they surrendered before it following a Supreme Court order last week in a case related to an alleged conspiracy to convene the Elgar Parishad event in Pune on December 31, 2017.
Teltumbde (70) surrendered at the NIA office in South Mumbai around 1.30 pm, after which he was formally arrested and taken to the special court where the NIA sought 10 days’ custody claiming it wanted to investigate his alleged involvement in the case. Special Judge A T Wankhede sent Teltumbde to NIA custody till April 18.
Teltumbde was accompanied by wife Rama Ambedkar and her brother Prakash Ambedkar, who heads the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi ? the siblings are grandchildren of Dr B R Ambedkar. Incidentally, Tuesday marked Dr Ambedkar’s 129th birth anniversary.
Navlakha surrendered at the NIA headquarters in Delhi and will be produced before a special court Wednesday. He may be brought to Mumbai if the NIA seeks a transit remand.
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On Monday, Teltumbde had written an open letter, stating that he has an “unblemished record of service for nearly five decades to this country” in various roles including in the corporate world, as a teacher, civil rights activist and a public intellectual.
He claimed in the letter that he was illegally arrested by Pune Police while still under the protection of the Supreme Court and that his house in the faculty housing complex of the Goa Institute of Management raided in August 2018 while he and his wife were in Mumbai.
Teltumbde wrote that “draconian legislations” like the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, under which he has been booked, “denude innocent people of their liberties”. “The jingoist nation and nationalism have got weaponised by the political class to destroy dissent and polarise people… I earnestly hope that you will speak out before your turn comes,” he wrote.
The NIA has alleged that the Elgar Parishad event in Shaniwar Wada in Pune on December 31, 2017, led to the violence in Bhima Koregaon the day after.
Last week, the Supreme court refused to grant extension of time for Teltumbde and Navlakha to surrender, when they cited the coronavirus outbreak and their susceptibility to it, if lodged in a prison, owing to age and other illnesses. The court had directed them to surrender within a week.
On Tuesday, citing the NIA’s investigation, Special Public Prosecutor Prakash Shetty told the court in Mumbai that the call detail records of Teltumbde’s mobile allegedly showed that he was in contact with the arrested accused during the “relevant period” and present at the place of offence.
The remand application also claimed that Teltumbde was the convenor of the Elgar Parishad programme and alleged that he had received funds from the central committee of the CPI (Maoist), the banned organisation.
The NIA alleged that the accused “promoted enmity between the caste groups and lead to violence resulting in loss of life and statewide agitation”.
Teltumbde informed the court, through his lawyer Arif Siddiqui, that he had cooperated with the NIA, and given his statement twice to Pune Police when summoned. He said he was under the interim protection of courts so far and had surrendered duly following the apex court’s order. He also said that he was unwell with illnesses, including asthma and chronic spondylitis.
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