A special NIA court in Mumbai dismissed the bail application filed by activist Anand Teltumbde, who was arrested in connection with Elgar Parishad-Maoist links. The court said the charges against him were prima facie true.
Special NIA Judge Kothalikar observed that Anand Teltumbde has failed in offering an explanation as to why his name appears as a convener on the book or pamphlet titled ‘Bhima Koregaon Shauryadin Prerana Abhiyan’, which was printed prior to the programme on December 31, 2017.
In its observation, the court said it did not find the accusation of Teltumbde’s involvement not “inherently improbable” or “wholly unbelievable”, and prima facie he was involved in furthering the activities of the banned organisation. The NIA had earlier claimed that Teltumbde was an active member of the proscribed group CPI(M) and propagated its activities.
“I do not find any merit in the argument proffered by the learned advocate for Teltumbde that he had no concern with the event of Elgar Parishad and that the allegations made against him are not prima facie true,” the judge said.
The judge highlighted that since Teltumbde’s name appeared on the invitation card and that he went to Shaniwar Wada, the location where the Elgar Parishad event was held, suggested that he was linked with the Elgar Parishad.
Rejecting the bail application filed by Anand Teltumbde, Justice Kothalikar said, “While considering a bail application, there is a need to maintain a fine balance between the societal interest vis a vis personal liberty of the accused by adhering to the fundamental principle of criminal jurisprudence.
“Bail cannot be granted solely or exclusively on the ground that the fundamental principle of criminal jurisprudence is that the accused is presumed to be innocent till he is found guilty,” said the court.
The court also discarded the contention of Teltumbde that his educational qualification and social background be considered while deciding its verdict on the bail application.
“There is sufficient material to enable the court to reach prima facie conclusion that the accusations made against Teltumbde are prima facie true. Thus, there is no hitch to record prima facie satisfaction that there is material against Teltumbde to show his complicity in the crime,” the court observed.
Elgar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon violence case
The Elgar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon case pertains to an event organised at Shaniwar Wada called Elgar Parishad on December 31, 2017. The following day, i.e January 1, 2018, large scale violence broke out at Bhima Koregaon, where lakhs of Dalits had gathered to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon, won by the British Army—comprising mostly soldiers from the Dalit community—against the Peshwas in 1818.
An FIR was filed in connection with the violence on January 8 after which Pune Police kickstarted a probe into it. According to the police, arrested ‘activists’ claimed that the event was organised as part of alleged Maoist activity and the accused were members.
The Pune police continued the probe in the matter for 2 years after which the investigation was transferred to the National Investigation Agency in January this year. The agency said that incriminating documents and letters were found on the devices of some of the accused, tying their links to the banned CPI(M) group.
Pune Police arrested Prof Anand Teltumbde on 2 February 2019 for his alleged involvement in the violence that erupted in Elgar Parishad in January 2018.
Besides Teltumbde, a host of other supposed “intellectuals”, including Sudha Bharadwaj, Stan Swamy, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Shoma Sen, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, and Varavara Rao were arrested for inciteful speeches and their involvement in furthering activities of a banned organisation. Stan Swamy, one of the accused in the case had died earlier this month.