MASS condemns arrest of Navlakha and Teltumbde, demands immediate release

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Teltumbde | Navlakha Image Credit: The Indian Express

NET News Desk

The Manab Adhikar Sangram Samity (MASS) condemning the arrest of Gautam Navlakha and Anand Teltumbde, demanded their immediate release. They further described the arrest of the civil rights activist during the pandemic as absurd and unwarranted.

Dismayed by the order of the Supreme Court the Samity considers the arrest of the activists as, “testimony to the dubious processes that were followed in order to implicate persons fighting for social justice in the Indian subcontinent.”

In a press statement issued by the Chief Adviser of MASS, the Samity reiterated Navlakha and Teltumbde’s role in Assam and the Northeast in the fight against violence and human rights issues. This also includes their participation against the draconian laws like the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act, 1958, or the fight against social injustice as well as the issue autonomy for indigenous communities across the region.

The Supreme Court’s recent direction, asking civil rights activists Gautam Navlakha and Anand Teltumbde to surrender before jail authorities came in connection with the 2018 Bhima Koregaon violence case. During the violence, many Dalit activists were hurt in rioting by upper caste mobs supported by powerful local politicians.

As per reports, many activists, including Teltumbde and Navlakha, have been arrested for allegedly having links with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist).

Both the human rights activists Navlakha and Teltumbde surrendered in the Bhima Koregaon case on April 14, following a Supreme Court directive. Navalakha, Teltumbde and several other activists were booked for their alleged Maoist links and several other charges following the violence at Koregaon Bhima village in Pune district on January 1, 2018. The activists were directed by SC to surrender within three weeks, but they had moved a plea last week seeking an extension due to the coronavirus outbreak. The SC, however, rejected the application and asked them to surrender within a week.

“The charges against them are examples of the government’s high handedness. It is no coincidence that they have been charged under the provision of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, that is increasingly being used to silence dissenting India,” mentioned the press statement.

Expressing concern over the outbreak of the pandemic and the government’s stand on handling the economic fallout it stated, “It saddens us to see them pursue a frivolous, vindictive agenda in the state. The unjust and unwarranted arrest of Akhil Gogoi and other activists of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) in Assam, are further evidence of the kind of dangerous expansion of authoritarianism in the subcontinent.”

The statement also mentioned that both the activist who have pre existing health conditions are vulnerable to the COVID-19 outbreak, and should have remained in their homes during this health crisis until the legal processes find its logical ending.

“We, therefore, join other democratic voices in demanding that the order to arrest the two eminent civil rights activist be rescinded at this time. We are confident that due legal process will show that the cases against them are absurd and part of political vendetta that serves to curb,” said MASS.

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