Mumbai: The search and arrest warrants issued against the alleged ‘Urban Naxalites’ are rooted in copies of the First Information Report of January 9, 2018, which had named Sudhir, Pralhad Dhawale, Shoma Sen and Mahesh Sitaram Raut and charged them under various sections of the IPC and under various sections of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.
This was confirmed by to the Free Press Journal by Sagar Gonsalves, whose father Vernon was arrested on Tuesday. In the FIR, the arrested activists and ‘free thinkers’ have been accused of promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and committing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony (Section 153-A), with intent to cause fear or alarm, or whereby any person may be induced to commit an offence against the State or against public tranquillity (Section 505). They are further charged with criminal conspiracy and common intention in pursuit of their unlawful activities.
Even more shocking is that these civil rights activists have been arrested on the severe charge of belonging to and recruiting terrorist groups. Moreover, the stringent sections of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967 have been invoked. These sections cover such serious offences as raising funds for a terrorist act, recruiting person or persons for commissioning of a terrorist act, and membership of a terrorist gang or organisation.
Most people who know Anand Teltumbde, better known as the grand son-in-law of Dr Babsaheb Ambedkar, believe the raids conducted on his house were meant to harass him. Teltumbde, a strong critic of both Dalit leaders and Maoists, had in fact written on an online portal against the Elgar Parishad held before the Bhima Koregaon march on December 31. His brother, Milind Teltumbde, is known to be a Naxal activist. But, until now, Anand was never deemed to be associated with Milind’s conflicting ideology.
Teltumbde had also said in his online article that the long marches which culminated in the Elgar Parishad on December 31 was a corollary of the resolve to fight against Hindutva and, more importantly, Brahminical forces. He praised this effort but pointed out that Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar had also described it as an artificial construct, which was taken literally by the Dalits.
Teltumbde expressed shock at the raids. “Many of my books and articles are of the Maoists and their activities; and yet this action,” he said. His brother-in-law and president of Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh, Prakash Ambedkar, said that this was systematic and intentional harassment. “This is a message the government is sending out to silence all those who are its critics or detractors. Teltumbde has been a critic of Dalits, Naxals and even the government. The fact is anyone who opposes the government will be silenced. They want to harass me by raiding the residences of these free thinkers,” said Ambedkar. Sambhaji Bhagat, a Dalit poet (better known as Sahir), explained that Teltumbde had no connect with the grassroots as he had done no work and he was an intellectual who the Dalits do not care for.
“He has always tried to interpret Ambedkar’s ideology. The only difference and, a large one, is that Babasaheb was connected to his people. He acted as per his times and was opposed to caste conflict. These modern thinkers have no ground connect. They have no experience of any caste war, so there is a huge gap in their theory and practice,’’ said Bhagat.