For the record: Am I a Naxalite?

The harassment I have faced is meant to terrorise intellectuals, subdue dissent

Written by Anand Teltumbde | Updated: August 30, 2018 12:20:09 am
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I had just woken up somewhat late, tired after a late night flight when I saw missed calls from Ajit Parulekar, a colleague and director of the Goa Institute of Management where I am a senior professor and chair, Big Data Analytics. He shocked me by informing that the Pune police was in the campus looking for me. He said he is rushing to the campus and would let me know the developments.

I had come to Mumbai for an official meeting at 10 am. By the time I was through with the meeting, there were a spate of missed calls on my cellphone. All the TV channels were flashing the news of nationwide raids on the houses of activists and intellectuals, and the arrest of some of them. I called up my wife who said that our house too was searched, according to the TV reports. She was obviously scared and already booked the tickets for both of us to Goa at 3.45 pm. I asked her to hold on and consulted a lawyer friend who advised that the house needs to be checked by one of us for whether the police planted any object there. He also suggested that a complaint needed to be filed at the police station to that effect. As I had some work planned at Mumbai, I asked my wife to cancel my ticket. She reached Goa and took the help of a lawyer friend and filed the police complaint.

My wife spoke with security personnel and got the horrific description of the entire process. In the morning hours, a police van accompanied by two police vehicles stormed into the campus. They took away the cell phones of security personnel and disconnected the landlines. They enquired about me and picked up one security person from the main gate to show them my house. At the second gate, they repeated the same process, taking away all cell phones and disconnecting the landlines, and came over to our house. They threatened the security guard to get the keys. He brought the duplicate keys the house was opened.

The entire process was conducted as though I was a dreaded terrorist or a criminal. The police could have asked me whatever they wanted to, either by sending a police official or calling me to the police station. But the intention is to create an atmosphere of terror. All my information is in the public domain. I have been a meritorious student all through, passing through prestigious institutes of the country, including the hallowed IIM-Ahmedabad. I did my doctorate in cybernetics and have worked my entire career in the corporate sector, rising to be the executive director of Bharat Petroleum Corporation and, subsequently, managing director and CEO of Petronet India Limited, a holding company in the private sector.

Unusually, while living in the corporate world, I published over 20 research papers in prestigious journals. After my corporate stint, I was invited to be a professor at another hallowed institute, IIT-Kharagpur, where I taught business management courses for more than five years before joining the Goa Institute of Management in July 2016. I head the institute’s Big Data Analytics programme, and launched a post-graduate course this year, the first of its kind in the country.

My professional life has been engaging enough. But with the intention to contribute towards creating a just society, I have been writing and speaking in public for more than three decades. I have written 26 books, which have been published in India and abroad. I have written hundreds of articles, along with a regular column, ‘Margin Speak’ in the Economic and Political Weekly. My writings are regularly translated. Most of these articles are available on in the public domain. I have delivered hundreds of lectures across India and abroad. I was twice invited by US universities for lecture tours.

I have been an activist since my student days. In due course, I have been associated with many organisations, none of which advocate violence or breaking the law. Of course, in my role as a public intellectual, I have been critical of the policies of the government. I voiced these not in a superficial way but with scholastic discipline. I am definitely critical of the present regime but unlike many others, fault the entire post-colonial construction of the state for its rise.

As for the insinuations of my connection with Bhima-Koregaon or Elgaar Parishad, I happened to write a critique of the Bhima Koregaon episode published in The Wire [thewire.in/caste/myth-bhima-koregaon-reinforces-identities-seeks-transcend], incurring the wrath of many Dalits. As far as Maoist links are concerned, I have written books (Anti-Imperialism and Annihilation of Caste, Introduction to Ambedkar’s India and Communism, Republic of Caste) criticising their practice and reliance on violence.

I, like many others who have been targeted, was not even at the conference. With what stretch of imagination, could I have even been suspected to have a connection with these happenings? The entire episode is based on a letter the police produced, the authenticity of which is far from established. And on this basis, the police are misusing draconian laws to terrorise people into silence by targeting select intellectuals and activists.

I urge the judiciary to take note of the monumental harassment and torture innocent persons like me are pushed to endure without an iota of wrongdoing on our part. I also urge the people of my country to judge for themselves from the foregoing whether I deserve the treatment I have received.

The writer is senior professor & chair, Big Data Analytics, Goa Institute of Management. This is an edited excerpt of his public statement released on August 29

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