The Supreme Court, on Wednesday, ordered activists Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha to surrender within one week in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case. Both, Teltumbde and Navlakha have been accused of having Maoist links and instigating the violence in Bhima Koregaon on January 1, 2018.
A bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra and Indira Banerjee heard the plea and ordered, “Though we expected that the accused would surrender, honouring the order of this Court, they have not done so.” The order further said, “It would have been appropriate for the accused to surrender as the courts are open and not totally closed.” The court however, gave Teltumbde and Navlakha a week more saying, “However, since the petitioners have enjoyed the protection for long, by way of last opportunity, we extend the time granted to surrender for one week.”
On March 16, the SC had denied the duo anticipatory bail citing material collected by the investigating agency. They were given three weeks to surrender. They subsequently moved SC requesting more time to surrender.
In their plea the activists submitted that both of them were over the age of 65 and suffered from heart ailments. In wake of the Covid-19 pandemic their susceptibility to the disease was higher due to the comorbidity factor. The activists’ lawyer submitted, “Going to prison during this time of Coronavirus is virtually a death sentence.” However, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta opposed the plea dismissing it as a “mechanism to buy time”.
Both, Teltumbde and Navlakha are facing charges under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). The Pune Police have alleged that the violence was incited at the Elgaar Parishad, an event attended by many prominent activists on the day preceding the attack on Dalit families commemorating the 200th anniversary of the victory of Mahar soldiers against an army of Peshwas.
Many other activists have been accused in the case. These include activist-advocates Surendra Gadling and Sudha Bharadwaj, anti-caste activist Sudhir Dhawale, poet Varavar Rao, professor Shoma Sen, and activists Arun Fereira, Rona Wilson and Vernon Gonsalves.
Th entire SC order may be read here:
Bhima Koregaon case: SC rejects ABA of Anand Teltumbde, Gautam Navlakha
Statement of Solidarity, Appeal to Acquit Anand Teltumbde
Bhima Koregaon case: Bail Applications of three social activists rejected