Does the arrest of Anand Teltumbde shock us? Does it surprise us that the police arrested him at 3.30 in the morning from Mumbai airport, where he had arrived in order to move his application for bail before the high court? Should we be concerned that he was taken into custody despite the four week respite given to him by the Supreme Court? Who knows what the judgement of the high court would have been? After all, a firm and clear stand taken by Justice S. Muralidhar of the Delhi high court has kept one of the activists the Pune police is keen to arrest, Gautam Navlakha, out of their clutches. It is clear that the alacrity shown by the Maharashtra police was precisely to preempt the possibility of Anand getting any relief.
One can ask what was need for the hurry to incarcerate him? Is Anand a dreaded terrorist whose presence outside jail is a threat to the people of India? This is exactly what this feverish act of the state tries to prove. That a free Anand is a grave threat to the nation. By raiding his home in Goa in his absence, by breaking the door open in blatant violation of all norms, the police tried to underline the urgency of their action.
A lot has been written on the sheer absurdity of the case that has been built against Anand along with others like Sudha Bharadwaj and others. Nine of them all already in jail. Gautama Navlakha is still free. But the dragnet is bound to get many others.
The farcical charge that all of them were part of a larger conspiracy to target the prime minister is being peddled to show how dangerous people like Anand are. The bogey of ‘anti nationals’ and ‘urban Maoists’ hiding in educational campuses has been raised and has succeeded in capturing popular imagination. So, we should not expect outrage in the educated class against this arrest. The usual suspects will raise a hue and cry while others busy themselves guessing what the new budget has brought them and whether they fall under the new categories of beneficiaries or not.
The arrest of Anand is a harsh reminder to all of us that the country has fallen in lawless hands. How do we expect the orders of the Supreme Court to be respected when the court is being openly threatened by the leaders of the RSS, parent body of the BJP, for disrespecting Hindu sentiments?
Let us say that the observation of the highest court that it found no merit in the plea of Anand to quash the FIR against him as the probe was getting bigger and bigger in scope was unnecessary and even indicative of how the lower courts would react.
The polite society which celebrated the talent and intellect of Anand to show that all a Dalit needs is merit to rise and find his or her place in this world will likely remain silent. We will go on attending seminars and publishing papers, thereby enriching the intellectual life of the nation while the best minds are swiftly removed from our midst and put where they apparently belong, the jails of India.
The arrest of Anand Teltumbde would definitely have a chilling effect on those who are still speaking and writing with their independent minds. No one wants to be in jail. We are not sure who is next in the list. So, true intellectual activity would cease. All of India’s campuses need to rise in anger and protest, not only because one of our own has been jailed but because the arrest of Anand, Sudha and others assumes that we Indians are idiots who will passively accept the most fraudulent claim made by the government.