Published: 08th April 2020
All-India Forum for Right to Education appeals to Chief Justice to drop case against Anand Teltumbde
Teltumbde is a Member Presidium of the AFRTE was charged under the UAPA and was supposed to surrender to the police today along with activist, Gautam Navlakha
On the day that writer, scholar, activist Anand Teltumbde was to surrender to the police after being charged under UAPA, several academicians, activists and members of the All-India Forum for Right to Education (AIFRTE) came out to support him. Albeit, online due to the COVID-19 lockdown. Some of the Forum members also went on a one-day hunger strike in solidarity. The Supreme Court has allowed Anand and Gautam Navlaka another one week to surrender citing the COVID-19 outbreak.
Teltumbde is a Member Presidium of the AIFRTE was charged under the UAPA and was supposed to surrender to the police on Mondy along with activist Gautam Navlakha. Initiating the press-conference, AIFRTE Organising Secretary Dr Vikas Gupta informed that keeping in view the ongoing nationwide lockdown, a massive social media and online campaign has been initiated by AIFRTE in support of Prof Anand Teltumbde. This includes an online petition signed by more than 2000 persons including leading intellectuals; Twitter messages shared by more than 15,000 persons including many celebrities; and a hunger strike by nearly 45 people in the country on April 6.
Among the many who spoke in support of Teltumbde were Delhi University professor Hany Babu whose house was also searched by the police a few months ago. "This is a clear strategy to intimidate intellectuals and activists. This virus is older than the pandemic. Even though there isn't enough evidence to prove his involvement in the issue, even if he did participate in any meeting it is no proof the he was the cause for any violence. We know what happened, those who oppose the RSS' ideology. People like Anand are just soft targets," he said.
It was all the more important now to stand up together in solidarity with the professor, he explained, "At a time when other countries are releasing prisoners and prisons are seen a spot where the virus could spread, it is unfair to send a political prisoners like Anand to go to jail. We all have to appeal for his freedom."
Nandita Narain, also a professor from DU, said that it was laughable that Anand is being accused of instigating violence when he is a person who has always preached non-violence. "He is a widely celebrated eminent personality. The charges against him are absurd. We have to appeal to the government to allow dissent in this country," she said.
Anil Sadgopal, who is a former DU dean also praised Anand's contribution to academia, "With both Marxist and Ambedkar ideology he has been protecting civil liberties and democratic rights in the country. Instead of seeking his help to uplift the deprived minority, they are arresting him and based on a vague letter on his computer that was infected with lap ware," he added.
"The case against Anand is not based on any information or documentation found in his possession. It relies only on reference to someone referred to as Anand in a letter found on the computer of Rhona Wilson. The veracity of the documents found on the computer are themselves in doubt as experts have discovered the possibility of remote access to and planting of documents in the said computer. As such any documents sourced from this computer canhardly be treated as ‘evidence’," the members said in a statement.
Adding on to the point made by Narain, the Forum said, "Anand is a consistent adherent to principles of non-violence and has at no point in his prominent role in the democratic movement in defence of civil liberties ever participated in, or given support to, violent or unlawful methods of struggle"
AIFRTE has forwarded a petition signed by almost two thousand citizens to the President and the Chief Justice of India to stop his arrest and further to drop the case against him while also appealing to the Prime Minister and the Central Home Minister to issue instructions to the concerned authorities accordingly. The AIFRTE also tweeted and encouraged others to trend #StandWithAnand to urge the government to drop the case.