Bhima Koregaon case: SC rejects ABA of Anand Teltumbde, Gautam Navlakha

Activists had been hounded by a vindictive regime that has been blaming them for sparking violence on January 1, 2018

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On Monday, March 16, the Supreme Court denied the anticipatory bail applications of academic Anand Teltumbde and activist Gautam Navlakha. Both had been arrested previously as a part of the nationwide crackdown on dissenters and activists in wake of the violence that broke out in Bhima Koregaon on January 1, 2018.

Members of the Dalit community had gathered at Bhima-Koregaon to commemorate the 200th anniversary of a historic battle where Mahar troops of the British army won against an upper caste army of the Peshwas for the first time. However, this celebration appeared to have angered upper-caste led right-wing supremacist groups, who allegedly conspired to attack Dalit families gathered at the site to commemorate the day. Violence spread from there and one person was allegedly killed as a result.

Just a day before the ceremony at Bhima Koregaon, activists had spoken out against caste-based discrimination at an event titled Elgaar Parishad at Pune’s Shanivaarwada. Though the event was organized by two retired judges, BG Kolse Patil and PB Sawant, multiple activists and dissenters were accused of using the event to conspire against the government and spark the violence.

In subsequent months, activists who weren’t even present at the Elgaar Parishad were arrested in connection with the case. In two waves of arrests, many prominent civil society members, dissenters, folk-singers, activists and lawyers faced the brunt of the regime’s vengeance. Gautam Navlakha and Anand Teltumbde were a part of this group of people.

After being made to jump through legal hoops and even being placed under house arrest briefly, there seems to be no respite for either of them. Last year, a Pune Sessions Court had rejected their ABAs. On February 14, the Bombay High Court had refused to grant them anticipatory bail, but extended their interim protection from arrest by four weeks to allow them to approach the SC. But today a bench comprising rejected their ABA and also instructed them to turn in their passports.


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