The 'declared policy' of Modi government is to nip in the bud even the faintest of voices against the ruling establishment. If the path of law and censorship do not come in handy to muzzle critics and political adversaries, the Fascist strategy is to use the offensive weapons of dictatorship. And that is what the Central Government has started using as has now been illustrated in the arrest of Anand Teltumbde, a respected sociologist, management expert and Dalit activist.
When Lok Sabha elections are at hand, the human rights violations against activists including Teltumbde form just one of the anti-democratic measures of the sangh parivar in and outside parliament with the sole aim of reataining power at any cost. A lthough the whole nation had condemned the arrests made in the name of the Bhima-Koregaon incidents that took place on 1 January 2018, Maharashtra governmentn is in an effort to put Teltumbde behind bars for the rest of his life with the support of the Centre alleging 'Modi murder attempt'. For what all reasons would our governments become afraid of activists?
The story of Bhima-Koregaon is of a legendary victory in battle by nearly 500 Dalit soldiers against the terrorist rule of Maratha regime two centuries ago. Anniversary of this declaration of independence – which has never been adequately covered in mainstream historical writings – is celebrated on 1 January every year in that region. Last year, it was held in a larger scale and ten lac people converged on the memorial obelisk marking victory in Koregaon, for the Elgar Parishad and related programmes. However, from the very outset the sangh parivar tried to disrupt the programme by conducting bandh and threatening the locals. When the Dalits overcame all such obstacles and arrived en masse, Hindutva outfits like 'Hindu Ekta Aghadi' resisted it by unleashing ruthless unilateral attacks. In that incident - in which a few died on the soil of Koregaon - the police was standing there as mere spectators, according to eyewitnesses. Despite complaints against the assailants, police did not take any action either.
At the same time, the victims became culprits. The police sent a report to higher levels that the leadership of Elgar Parishad had organized the event by taking funds from Maoists and that has to be seen as a terrorist act. The authorities derailed the case to another track by alleging, among others, that there was a conspiracy to assassinate Narendra Modi in the same way Rajiv Gandhi was killed. And that was followed by chasing and arresting the activists who led the programme. Last June, five people including Shoma Sen and Rona Wilson were arrested which was followed three months later by the arrest of four people including Varavara Rao under UAPA charges. They have not yet been granted bail. Anand Teltumbde is the latest victim of this 'urban Naxal' hunt.
Although he secured interim protection from the court, Maharashtra police threw them all to the winds and took him to custody. Now although the subsequent order by the Pune court that he should not be arrested till February 12 - the expiry of the interim protection - gives him some relief, there is every possibility that thereafter he will have to spend his time in jail like the nine others.
What one has to conclude from the arrest of those like Teltumbde is that those who turn the wheels of power in the country a pack of cowards with an intolerance for even the feeblest voice of dissent and criticism. What else can come from such a collective other than a permanent emergency? The critical ideas of Teltumbde, author of 26 internationally acclaimed books, cannot be classified under one single column of 'Dalit thoughts'. Of course, at the core of his contributions is the intellectual war-front he set against the sangh parivar and Hindutva politics. Firmly rooted in the politics of the down-trodden, he also worked alongside neo social movements.
In this sense, Teltumbde is the voice of the oppressed in the country. In addition, he has made studies and interventions on the ill-effects of globalization and India's agricultural issues. In other words he is one who has led the forces against the twin cancers that have affected the country, Hindutva and corporatism. It will be a surprise only if the cronies of Hindutva and the corporates do not get agitated over it. His response on the arrest the other day was that it puts the democratic future of the country in crisis. In the background of many activists being arrested in different parts of the country, this statement has to be viewed with real seriousness. In this era when the 'plain speaking' against the ruling elites becomes a crime, declaring solidarity with those like Teltumbde constitutes meaningful political action.