Human rights activist Anand Teltumbde refuted on Saturday the Maharashtra police claim that he had attended a convention in Paris, which was allegedly funded by Maoists, and dismissed as outrageous charges of Naxal link.
Teltumbde, who teaches at a management institute in Goa, was among the activists and lawyers whose homes were raided by the Pune police on August 28 on suspicion they had links with Maoists.
“These are all false allegations to malign and defame my image. I don’t know any Maoist leader and I am not having any relation with this,” Teltumbde told PTI over the phone.
“I keep going abroad for academic conferences. It is all on official invitations and everything is well documented,” he said.
The raid on the home of Teltumbde, a Goa Institute of Management professor and Dalit writer, was part of multi-city searches carried out by the Pune police in connection with an event held in Pune in December last year.
Five Left-wing activists were arrested during the searches and they are under house arrest till September 6 as per a Supreme Court direction. Teltumbde is not among them.
In a press briefing here Friday, the Maharashtra police had cited a letter, allegedly written by
“Comrade Prakash”, that mentions about arranging funds for a human rights convention attended by “Comrade Anand” in Paris.
However, the police did not say when the convention was held.
The letter also mentioned about allocating Rs 10 lakh annually to organise international seminars on Dalit issues, they had said.
Dismissing these charges, Teltumbde said, “I don’t know any Maoist leaders and I have not received any letters.”
“The police should think before levelling allegation, they should see my background, the work I did… I don’t have time to do all these things,” he said, adding “this is all outrageous”.
“My profession and whatever I do is all in public domain. This is a deliberate attempt by the police to trouble common people. I keep writing on various issue and I will be always critical,” he said.
Teltumbde alleged harassment of activists by the police.
“Only because the police have rights and they will do anything they want, this is not done,” he said, alleging “they are harassing us by doing such things”.
Lawyer-activist Sudha Bharadwaj and families of other activists arrested in the recent raids have dismissed the evidence produced by THE Maharashtra police to link them with Maoists as “fabricated”.
Bharadwaj, one of the five activists arrested by the police, said a purported letter implicating her was “totally concocted” to criminalise her and human rights organisations.
The police had claimed on Friday that Faridabad-based Bharadwaj had written to one “Com Prakash”.
Reacting to this in a handwritten statement, Bharadwaj said the “fabricated letter” had not been brought before the Pune court or the Faridabad chief judicial magistrate while seeking to “whisk” her to Pune.
On Tuesday, the police arrested Varavara Rao in Hyderabad, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira in Mumbai, Bharadwaj in Faridabad and Gautam Navalakha in Delhi.
The family of Vernon Gonsalves also said the charges were “fabricated”.
“I was present when searches and raids were conducted at our home, and I know what the police have seized,” his son Sagar Gonsalves said Saturday.
“I could not stop laughing when the police were levelling false charges with the so-called letters,” he said, referring to the police press conference.
The activist’s lawyer wife Susan Abraham called the arrests a ploy to divert attention from the real culprits behind the Koregaon-Bhima violence.
“The letters read out by the police during the media briefing are manufactured. None of these letters were filed or submitted to the court,” she said.
She accused the police of not following the set procedure for carrying out such probes.
“The police have not followed the procedure established by the cyber laws for the seizure of electronic data,” she said.
In Hyderabad, Telugu poet Varavara Rao’s nephew Venugopal said the evidence presented by the Maharashtra police to link the arrested activists to Maoists was “cooked up”.
“All this was said in June. It is nothing new,” he told PTI Saturday.
He termed the police press conference contempt of court, saying the matter was sub judice and the SC had asked the evidence to be submitted on September 6.
“This police officer does not have a right to hold a press conference,” Venugopal said.
The police have claimed they have “conclusive proof” to link Left-wing activists arrested in June and this week to Maoists, saying one of them spoke of a “Rajiv Gandhi-type event to end Modi-raj”.
This threat allegedly figured in an email exchanged between Rona Wilson, an activist arrested in June, and a Maoist leader.