All India Forum for Right to Education (AIFRTE) organised a virtual press conference on 6th April 2020 to register its strongest condemnation of the impending arrest of Prof. Anand Teltumbde, Member Presidium of AIFRTE and Senior Professor and Chair Big Data Analysis, Goa Institute of Management, on April 6, 2020. The Supreme Court had denied him anticipatory bail on the demand of the NIA although he had been fully co-operating with investigating agencies.

The video of the press-conference is available online and can be downloaded from this link – https://we.tl/t-GXFScb9USG Notwithstanding the pandemic generated national lockdown, the activists and intellectuals associated with AIFRRTE took up a vigorous public campaign in solidarity with Prof. Anand Teltumbde. Initiating the press-conference, AIFRTE Organising Secretary Dr Vikas Gupta informed that keeping in view the ongoing nationwide lockdown, a massive social media and online campaign has been initiated by AIFRTE in support of Prof Anand Teltumbde. This includes an online petition signed by more than 2000 persons including leading intellectuals;
twitter messages shared by more than 15,000 persons including many celebrities; and a hunger strike by nearly 45 people in the country on 6th April (Annexure 2). On humanitarian grounds under covid-19 Pandemic, and given the questionable charges against him, AIFRTE has forwarded a petition signed by almost two thousand citizens to the President and the Chief justice of India to stop Prof. Teltumbde’s arrest and further to drop the ill-conceived case against him while also appealing to the Prime Minister and the Central Home Minister to issue instructions to the concerned authorities accordingly. Several organisations from Punjab also expressed solidarity with Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha.

The conference was addressed by Prof. Jagmohan Singh (Ludhiana, Punjab), Chairperson, AIFRTE;  Prof. G. Haragopal (Telungana), Presidium Member of AIFRTE (in absentia, statement in Annexure 1); Prof. Madhu Prasad (Delhi University, Spokes Person, AIFRTE( in absentia, statement in Annexure 1); Prof. K. Chakradhar Rao (Hyderabad), Member, Presidium, AIFRTE; Prof. Anil Sadgopal (Bhopal/former Dean, Faculty of Education, DU), Member, Presidium, AIFRTE; Sh. Ramesh Patnaik (Guntur, Andhra Pradesh), Member, Presidium, AIFRTE; Prof. Nandita Narain  (former President, DUTA and FedCUTA, Delhi); Prof. Ganesh Devy (Dharwad, Karnataka), President, Rashtra Sewa Dal (in absentia, statement in Annexure 1); Prof. Hanibabu MT (Delhi University); Prof. Chaman Lal (Delhi), Former Professor, JNU & Chairperson, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Study Group;  Prof. Manoranjan Mohanty (Bhubaneswar), Former Professor, Delhi University and Council for Social Development; and others.

The speakers highlighted that the state action against Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha is part of a larger pattern of state assault on the democratic rights and liberties of the people and on principles of equity and justice that lie at the very foundation of our republic. They underlined the need for all democratic and progressive forces to come together and welcomed their joint action in this campaign as a positive sign. They underlined that the case against Anand Teltumbde is not based on any information or documentation found in his possession. It relies only on reference to someone referred to as Anand in a letter found on the computer of Rona Wilson. The veracity of the documents found on the computer are themselves in doubt as experts have discovered the possibility of remote access to and planting of documents in the said computer. As such any documents sourced from this computer can hardly be treated as ‘evidence’. The panellists underlined that Prof. Teltumbde is not merely a member of the family of Dr B.R. Ambedkar but also a renowned academician and a leading civil liberties activist. His theoretical and senior managerial contribution to the development of the IT sector and the Oil and Gas sector [and] in India is widely recognized and he has received several prestigious awards for his writing and work in these areas.

AIFRTE firmly believes that the case filed against him under the draconian UAPA which allows for indefinite incarceration without trial, is motivated with the intention of silencing a significant critical voice against anti-democratic policies and practices of the government. This includes Prof. Teltumbde’s stand against the NEP 2020 as it is against the core features of Indian Constitution including reservation and social justice.  It is an outrageous attempt to harass a leading figure in the civil liberties movement although it claims to have ‘discovered’ his links with banned Maoist Organisations. This is even more shocking as Prof. Teltumbde is a consistent adherent to principles of non-violence and has at no point in his prominent role in the democratic movement in defence of civil liberties ever participated in, or given support to, violent or unlawful methods of struggle.

Today in the grip of the deadly Corona Virus pandemic, when governments are releasing convicts and under trials on parole because overcrowded prisons present a grave threat, it is appalling that an innocent person and one who is recognized as a significant contributor to the country’s development should be denied anticipatory bail. Prof. Teltumbde is 68 years and a chronic asthmatic and hence is in the highest target category threatened with the Novel Corona virus.

Please visit the following web-page for further details about Prof. Teltumbde; the concocted Police Plot; AIFRTE’s online petition at change.org in various languages; solidarity campaign as well as
AIFRTE’s appeals to the CJI and the President of India [etc]. http://aifrte.in/i-stand-anand

Prof. Jagmohan Singh

(Chairperson, AIFRTE)
Jagmohan08@gmail.com

Dr. Vikas Gupta

(Organizing Secretary, AIFRTE)

vikashistorydu@gmail.com


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