header
South Asia

Nepali Citizens Condemn 'Politically Motivated' Arrests of Teltumbde and Navlakha

The arrests are not only intended to send a message to the minorities in India, but also to those in other parts of the subcontinent who have looked to India’s secular and democratic innovations for inspiration.

New Delhi: The ‘politically motivated’ arrests of Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha are not just a message to the Dalits, Adivasis, OBCs, and other minorities in India but also to those in other parts of the subcontinent who have looked to the example of India’s secular and democratic innovations for inspiration, says a statement issued by more than 200 Nepali citizens.

“On behalf of the Nepali public, we strongly condemn these unjust arrests, especially in the context when even repressive regimes in other parts of the world are releasing political prisoners in the face of the COVID-19 crisis,” the statement says.

The Nepali citizens have said the allegations against Teltumbde and Navlakha in the Bhima Koregaon case are “absurd”. They note that nine human rights activists (Varavara Rao, Sudha Bharadwaj, Shoma Sen, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Arun Ferreira, Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, and Vernon Gonsalves) have “already been incarcerated for almost two years now in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case, with no sign of a trial commencing”. They also criticised charges being booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, saying it “makes a mockery of the jurisprudence granting bail as a right”.

The statement described Teltumbde as “a friend to the Dalit movement in Nepal”. “He cared about the constitutional reforms in Nepal and wanted to see that the flaws visible to him in the Indian Constitution were not repeated in Nepal,” it says.

The full statement and the list of signatories has been reproduced below.

§

Nepali Citizens against the Arrest of Dr. Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha

Deploying the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), the Indian authorities decisively moved to detain eminent Indian scholar Dr. Anand Teltumbde and human rights activist Gautam Navlakha on April 14, 2020. Dr. Teltumbde, friend to the Dalit movement in Nepal, has written extensively about the caste system and has tirelessly advocated for the rights of Dalits. He cared about the constitutional reforms in Nepal and wanted to see that the flaws visible to him in the Indian Constitution were not repeated in Nepal.

These politically motivated arrests, coinciding with the birth anniversary of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, appears to us as a message not only to Dalits, Adivasis, OBCs, and other minorities in India but also to those in other parts of the subcontinent who have looked to the example of India’s secular and democratic innovations for inspiration. On behalf of the Nepali public, we strongly condemn these unjust arrests, especially in the context when even repressive regimes in other parts of the world are releasing political prisoners in the face of the COVID-19 crisis.

The Indian authorities have laid absurd allegations against Dr. Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha of seeking to overthrow the Indian government. This bizarre persecution by the Indian police started after the retaliatory violence by anti-Dalit vigilantes following Dalit protests and recognition of Bhima Koregoan in January 2018. Nine human rights activists (Varavara Rao, Sudha Bharadwaj, Shoma Sen, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Arun Ferreira, Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, and Vernon Gonsalves) have already been incarcerated for almost two years now in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case, with no sign of a trial commencing. All of them have been booked under the UAPA making bail impossible. This makes a mockery of the jurisprudence granting bail as a right.

In carrying out the arrests of Dr. Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha (both senior individuals), the Indian government demonstrates a galling neglect of the risks to their health. The death of either individual under Indian custody, a real possibility during the COVID-19 crisis, would be a stain on the conscience of the world.

It is outrageous that the Indian government, instead of defending human rights and securing the freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, is cracking down on the very people who fight for justice in India. More disturbingly, public comments by political actors have indicated that Dr. Teltumbde was singled out precisely because of his Dalit identity and activism. These measures by the Indian government are effectively an attempt to create a culture of state terror in the region. This is a violation of democratic principles as well as a dismissal of Dalit dissent.

We staunchly denounce the rise of these tactics in South Asian nations and beyond, and we call upon the Indian government to live up to the spirit of the Constitution and cease these assaults on civil liberties.

We, the undersigned, call upon Dalit, Adivasi/Janajati, OBC, and other minority leaders throughout the world to seek the preservation of justice and equity.

We stand in solidarity with those who fight for justice and those who safeguard Dalit rights. Signed by:

  1. Aahuti Aahuti, Public Intellectual, Kathmandu
  2. Aarti Basnyat, London, UK
  3. Abhilash Acharya, Educator, Kathmandu
  4. Agya Poudyal, Oxford, UK
  5. Alina Saba, Researcher & Activist, Lalitpur
  6. Amar Bk, Writer and Researcher, Kathmandu
  7. Amina Singh, Adjunct Faculty, Kathmandu University, Kathmandu
  8. Amish Raj Mulmi, Writer/Editor, Kathmandu
  9. Amita Sharma, Lawyer, Kathmandu
  10. Amuda Mishra, Gender Expert, Kathmandu
  11. Anish Shrestha, Youth Social Activist, Kathmandu
  12. Anup Baral, Actor, Director and Conceptual Artist, Actors’ Studio, Kathmandu
  13. Anushila Bhattarai, Activist, Kathmandu
  14. Archana Thapa, Writer, Akshar Creations Nepal, Kathmandu
  15. Aryan Rajak, Actor & Social Activist, Kathmandu
  16. Ashmina Ranjit, Artivist, LASANAA, Kathmandu
  17. Atul Bhattarai, Writer, Kathmandu
  18. Babita Rai, Activist and Writer, Dharan
  19. Balram Prasad Raut, Assistant Professor, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu
  20. Bandana Dhakal, Writer,
  21. Bandana Sharma, Development Consultant
  22. Bandana Sinha, Activist, Kathmandu
  23. Basanta Ranjitkar, Activist, LASANAA, Kathmandu
  24. Basudha Gurung, Advisor, FIAN Nepal, Kathmandu
  25. Bhogiraj Chamling, Writer and Researcher, Khotang
  26. Bhola Paswan, Writer and Researcher, Saptari
  27. Bikash Basnet, Writer, Kathmandu
  28. Bikash Shrestha, Journalist, Kathmandu
  29. Bikkil Sthapit, Activist, Kathmandu
  30. Bimal Khadka, Principal, K&K College, Kathmandu
  31. Binda Pandey, Trade Union/Political activist, Kathmandu
  32. Binod Bikram Kc, Poet, Kathmandu
  33. Brabim Kumar, Activist, Kathmandu
  34. Bunu Dhungana, Nepal Picture Library, Kathmandu
  35. Chandreshwor Das, Activist, Dhanusha
  36. Chandreshwor Sada, Activist, Dhanusha
  37. Charan Prasain, Human Rights Activist, Kathmandu
  38. Deepak Adhikari, Journalist, Kathmandu
  39. Deepak Paudel, Educator, Kathmandu
  40. Deepak Thapa, Researcher, Kathmandu
  41. Dewan Rai, Writer, Kathmandu
  42. Dhana Kumari Sunar, Poet and Activist, Kathmandu
  43. Dikshya Khadka, Community Leader, Kathmandu
  44. Dil Karki, MD Nepal Memorable Tours, Kathmandu
  45. Dinesh Kafle, Writer, Kathmandu
  46. Dipendra Paswan, Saptari
  47. Dishebh Raj Shrestha, Graphic Designer, Square Studio, Kathmandu
  48. Diwas Raja Kc, Nepal Picture Library, Kathmandu
  49. Dovan Rai, Writer and Researcher, Kathmandu
  50. Gopal Krishna Shiwakoti, President, INHURED International, Kathmandu
  51. Renu Adhikari, Founding Chairperson, WOREC, Kathmandu
  52. Sachin Ghemere, Medical Anthropologist, Kathmandu
  53. Saroj Dhital, General Surgeon, Kathmandu
  54. Vishnu Singh Rai, Writer, Kathmandu
  55. Dwarika Thebe, Writer & Researcher, Ilam
  56. Ekal Silwal, Journalist, Kathmandu
  57. Ganesh Bk, Chairperson, RDN Nepal,
  58. Geeta Sharma, Protection Expert, Kathmandu
  59. Gurung Sushanta, Writer, Bhaktapur
  60. Harinandan Ambedkar, Activist, Sarlahi
  61. Heema Rai, Agricultural Engineer, Khotang
  62. Hemanta Kumar Khatiwada, Sydney, Australia
  63. Indira Ghale, Human Rights Activist and Social Worker, Kathmandu
  64. Ishwari Bhattarai, Researcher, Lalitpur
  65. Ishwor Shrestha, Buddhist Academician, Kathmandu
  66. Itisha Giri, Writer and Podcaster, Madrid
  67. J. B. Biswokarma, Chairperson, Dignity Initiative, Kathmandu
  68. Janak Rai, Department of Anthropology, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu
  69. Janardan Thapa, West Bengal, India
  70. Jay Poudyal, Photographer, Stories of Nepal, Kathmandu
  71. JB Pun Magar, Journalist, Kathmandu
  72. Kabin Maleku, Pharmacist, Kathmandu
  73. Kabita Bahing Rai, Kathmandu
  74. Kabita Parajuli, Attorney, Portland, Oregon
  75. Kalyan Pokhrel, Executive Member, Supreme Court Bar Association, Nepal
  76. Kamal Pathak, Kathmandu
  77. Karan Shrestha, Artist & Filmmaker, Kathmandu
  78. Karma Tshering Gurung, Photographer, Kathmandu
  79. Kashiram Dhungana, Human Rights Lawyer, Kathmandu
  80. Khem Shreesh, Researcher, Kathmandu
  81. Khyamu “Gaunle” Biswokarma, Dalit Activist and Researcher, Kathmandu
  82. Kishor Sharma, Photographer, Kathmandu
  83. Kripa Dongol, Geographer, University of Colorado, Boulder
  84. Krishna Gopal Ranjit, Artist, Kathmandu
  85. Krishna Maharjan, Communication Engineer/Disability Rights Activist, Lalitpur
  86. Kumudini Gurung, Shikshya Foundation Nepal, Kathmandu
  87. Kumud Rana, Researcher, UK/Nepal
  88. Leah Everest, Newzealand
  89. Lhamo Yangchen Sherpa, Sr. Advisor Research & M&E, Kathmandu
  90. Luna Ranjit, Writer, Kathmandu
  91. Luv Yadav, Educator, Kathmandu
  92. Madhusudhan Subedi, Professor, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu
  93. Mallika Aryal, Journalist, Oslo, Norway
  94. Mandira Sharma, Human Rights Advocate and Researcher, UK/Nepal
  95. Mani Sharma, Publisher, Sangrila Books, Kathmandu
  96. Manjushree Thapa, Author, Toronto
  97. Manoj Paswan, Human Rights Activist, Sarlahi
  98. Manushi Yami Bhattarai, Samajwadi Party, Kathmandu
  99. Matina Maharjan, Architect, Kathmandu
  100. Mausham Shakya, Psychological Well-Being Coach, Kathmandu
  101. Milan Kumar Singh Tharu, Educator, Kathmandu
  102. Mohan Kumar Karn, Terai Human Rights Defenders Alliance, Kathmandu
  103. Mukesh Jha, Madhesi Youth Leader, Kathmandu
  104. Muna Gurung, Writer, Kathmandu
  105. Nasala Chitrakar, Poet and Educator, Kathmandu
  106. Nayan P. Sindhuliya, Researcher, Kathmandu
  107. NayanTara Gurung Kakshapati, Photo Circle, Kathmandu
  108. Nirajan Thapaliya, Rights Activist, Kathmandu
  109. Niraj lawoju, Writer and Activist, Bhaktapur
  110. Niranjan Kunwar, Writer and Educational Consultant, Kathmandu
  111. Nirvaya Subedi, Writer, Kathmandu
  112. Nischal Neupane, Researcher, Amherst, USA
  113. Nyima Dorjee, Researcher, Kathmandu
  114. Pemba Sherpa, Aviation, Solukhumbu
  115. Phurwa D. Gurung, Geographer, University of Colorado Boulder, USA
  116. Pooja Pant, VOW Media, Kathmandu
  117. Prabindra Shakya, Community Empowerment and Social Justice Network, Nepal
  118. Pradip Pariyar, Samata Foundation, Lalitpur
  119. Pradipta Kadambari, Principal, Kadambari Memorial College, Kathmandu
  120. Prakash Aryal, Lawyer, Kathmandu
  121. Prakash Mahara, Human Rights Activist, Kathmandu
  122. Pranab Man Singh, Quixote’s Cove, Kathmandu
  123. Pranaya Rana, The Kathmandu Post, Kathmandu
  124. Pranika Koyu, Poet, Kathmandu
  125. Prasiit Sthapit, Photographer, Fuzz Factory Productions, Kathmandu
  126. Pratima Thakali, Artist, Kathmandu
  127. Praveen Kumar Yadav, Activist and Researcher, Kathmandu
  128. Prawin Adhikari, Writer, Lalitpur
  129. Priyanka Bista, KTK-BELT, Kathmandu
  130. Rabindra Baniya, Actor, Kathmandu
  131. Rabin Sayami, Cartoonist, Kathmandu
  132. Ragendra Nath Shrestha, Kathmandu
  133. Rahul Rajak, Law Student, Rautahat
  134. Rajendra Maharjan, Writer, Kathmandu
  135. Rajkumar Paswan, Saptari
  136. Raj Rajak, Ambedkarite and Bahujan activist, Kathmandu
  137. Raju Prasad Chapagai, Constitutional/Human Rights Lawyer, Kathmandu
  138. Raju Sarkar, Human Right Activist, Kathmandu
  139. Raju Syangtan, Poet, Kathmandu
  140. Raju Yonjan, Art Entrepreneur, Kathmandu
  141. Rakesh Dongol, System Engineer, Kathmandu
  142. Rakesh Kayastha, Filmmaker, Kathmandu
  143. Rakesh Mishra, Social Activist, Biratnagar
  144. Raksha Ram Harijan, Advocate, Kathmandu
  145. Ramesh Singh, International Development Consultant, Bangkok
  146. Ram Gurung, Writer and Researcher, Kathmandu
  147. Ram Kumar Bhandari, Social Justice Activist, Kathmandu
  148. Ram Shrestha, Researcher, Global Institute for Policy Studies, Kathmandu
  149. Riban Mangrati, Dalit Readers, Kathmandu
  150. Rita Baramu, Body & Data, Kathmandu
  151. Rochak Dahal, Lalitpur
  152. Rojita Adhikari, Writer, Kathmandu
  153. Rukamanee Maharjan, Assistant Professor, Nepal Law Campus
  154. Rukh Gurung, Researcher, Kathmandu
  155. Rukshana Kapali, Queer Rights Activist, Kathmandu
  156. Rupak Shrestha, Geographer, Boulder, Colorado
  157. Rup Sunar, Dignity Initiative, Kathmandu
  158. Rushil Shakya, Technologist, NYC/Kathmandu
  159. Sabin Ninglekhu, Researcher, Nanyang Technological University
  160. Sabitri Gautam, Writer, Pokhara
  161. Sagar Chhetri, Photographer, photo.circle, Kathmandu
  162. Sagarika Bhatta, Powershift Nepal, Kathmandu
  163. Sagar Manandhar, Artist, Kathmandu
  164. Samip Dhungel, Poet, Kathmandu
  165. Sampreety Gurung, Cornell University, USA
  166. Samrat Katwal, Development Worker, Kathmandu
  167. Sandesh Ghimire, Student, University of Minnesota, USA
  168. Sangeet Srota, Writer, Kathmandu
  169. Sangita Thebe Limbu, Researcher/Graduate Student, Oxford, UK
  170. Sanjay Sharma, PhD Scholar, Singapore
  171. Sanjay Yadav, Youth Leader, Human Rights Activist, Rautahat
  172. Sanjeev Maharjan, Visual Artist/Art Educator, Kathmandu
  173. Sanjeev Uprety, Writer, Kathmandu
  174. Sanjog Thakuri, Feminist Activist, Kathmandu
  175. Santosh Pariyar, Educator, Kathmandu
  176. Sarita Pariyar, Darnal Award for Social Justice, Kathmandu
  177. Sarita Tiwari, Writer, Chitawan
  178. Shailendra Ambedkar, Human Rights Lawyer, Bhairahawa
  179. Sharareh Bajracharya, Art Educator, Srijanalaya, Kathmandu
  180. Shikhar Bhattarai, Photographer, photo.circle, Kathmandu
  181. Shiva Hari Gyawali, Writer, Kathmandu
  182. Shova Ranjit, Housewife, Kathmandu
  183. Shradha Ghale, Writer, Kathmandu
  184. Shrochis Karki, Researcher, Oxford UK
  185. Shubha Kayastha, Body & Data, Bhaktapur
  186. Sirjana Pant, Public Health Worker, Kathmandu
  187. Slesh Shrestha, Professor of Economics, Singapore
  188. Smriti Rai, Development Professional, Dharan
  189. Sohan Prasad Sha, Researcher, Kathmandu
  190. Sona Katik, Kapilvastu
  191. Sophia Pande, Kathmandu
  192. Subima Shrestha, Kathmandu
  193. Subina Shrestha, Journalist, Filmmaker
  194. Sudhir Shah, International Marketing Manager, Kathmandu
  195. Sujan Chitrakar, Artist, Kathmandu
  196. Sumitra Bogati, Spoken Word Poet, Kathmandu
  197. Sumitra Manandhar Gurung, Mahila Sahayatra, Chitlang
  198. Sunil Kumar Sarbariya, Dalit Activist, Sapatari
  199. Sunil Shakya, Indigenous Art Promoter, Kathmandu
  200. Supriya Manandhar, Artist, Lalitpur
  201. Suresh Kiran, Poet, Kathmandu
  202. Suresh Thapa, Software Engineer, Lalitpur
  203. Sushan Acharya, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu
  204. Sushma Joshi, Writer and Filmmaker, Kathmandu
  205. Suvani Singh, Quixote’s Cove, Kathmandu
  206. Tashi Tsering Tewa, Washington University in Saint Louis, USA
  207. Tripty Tamang Pakhrin, photo.circle, Kathmandu
  208. Tsering D Gurung, Writer/Journalist, Kathmandu
  209. Tula Narayan Shah, Activist, Nepal Madhesh Foundation, Kathmandu
  210. Ujjwala Maharjan, Poet, Educator, Word Warriors, Kathmandu
  211. Ujjwal Prasai, Writer Activist, Kathmandu
  212. Weena Pun, Cornell University, USA
  213. Yug Pathak, Writer, Kathmandu
  214. Yuqtilal Marik, Chair, Dalit Sarokar Manch Nepal, Kathmandu
  215. Yutsha Dahal, Nepal Picture Library, Kathmandu