Academic’s arrest is latest chapter of crackdown on human rights in India

Amnesty International India
Bengaluru/ New Delhi: 2 February 2019 1:56 pm

Responding to the arrest of academic Anand Teltumbde from the Mumbai airport this morning, Aakar Patel of Amnesty India said: “Anand Teltumbde’s arrest is another nail in the coffin for the freedom to dissent in India.
Nine other prominent lawyers, activists and academics are already in detention based on a fabricated case registered by the state police. The Maharashtra authorities, by targeting a renowned scholar like Anand Teltumbde, seem to be trying to send the message that no critic of the government is safe from arbitrary arrest.”
On Friday, a Pune court had rejected Anand Teltumbde’s petition for pre-arrest bail. Teltumbde was on his way to Mumbai to file a similar petition before the Bombay High Court. On 14 January, the Supreme Court had given the academic protection from arrest for four weeks and said he could seek bail from the appropriate authority within this time. Teltumbde’s lawyers say his arrest before the end of the four weeks is a blatant violation of the Supreme Court order.
The Maharashtra police have arrested Teltumbde in connection with investigations into violence that broke out in Bhima Koregaon near Pune in January 2018. The police have claimed, largely on the basis of copies of emails and phone records, that Teltumbde and the other arrested activists had links with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) and were complicit in violence.
The other arrested human rights defenders are Arun Ferreira, Mahesh Raut, Rona Wilson, Shoma Sen, Sudha Bharadwaj, Sudhir Dhawale, Surendra Gadling, Varavara Rao and Vernon Gonsalves. They have all been detained under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, which is inconsistent with international human rights standards.
In October 2018, UN human rights experts had expressed concern that the charges were “being used to silence human rights defenders who promote and protect the rights of India’s Dalit, indigenous, and tribal communities”.

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