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Anand Teltumbde’s release just interim relief, says activists

Press meet in Delhi raises issue of suppression of dissent

A press conference of academicians, lawyers and activists in the national capital on Saturday under the banner of ‘Campaign Against State Repression’ to oppose the arrest of Dalit scholar Anand Teltumbde, ended on a dramatic note, with the announcement that a special Court in Pune had ordered his release. Mr Teltumbde, a professor at the Goa Institute of Management, had been arrested earlier in the morning.

Among the participants at the meet, lawyer Vrinda Grover read out a text message from Mr. Teltumbde’s lawyer Rohan Nahar saying that based on the Supreme Court order providing him protection from arrest for four weeks — till February 11 — the scholar had been released.

The activists present however, added a caveat to the announcement saying it should only be considered an interim relief in a long battle ahead.

“This is nothing but an interim relief. Let us not be under the impression that no one else in the world would be tortured in the Bhima Koregaon case,” Gujarat MLA and Dalit leader Jignesh Mewani said.

He later announced that there would be a larger protest at the Maharashtra Bhawan on February 5 against Maharashtra government for the Bhima Koregaon arrests.

Mr. Mewani said the only reason for the arrest of Mr. Teltumbde and others like him was to discredit spontaneous dissent against the BJP government. “The Pune police is working on the directions of the Urban Manu sitting in Delhi,” he said. This will be matter of debate in the 2019 General Elections.

‘No link to violence’

Speaking at the press meet, former Mumbai High Court Justice B.G. Kolse said he and former Supreme Court Judge Justice P.B. Sawant had organised the Elgar Parishad, and none of the organisers had any connection with Maoists or the violent incidents on January 2, 2018 at Bhima Koregaon.

“There have been consistent efforts to malign us because in the Elgar Parishad, we openly appealed that no one should vote for the BJP or any communal force,” Justice Kolse said. On August 28 last year, Pune police had conducted raids at the homes of activists and scholars across the country in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case. Mr Teltumbde’s home in Goa was also raided in his absence.

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