Anand Teltumbde is an Indian civil rights activist who has been in the news for his alleged connection to the Bhima Koregaon violence in 2018 and a Maoist plot to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Anand Teltumbde is also known for his writings on the caste system in India and the philosophies of BR Ambedkar.
Anand Teltumbde was born in 1952 (68 years old; as in 2020) in a small town called Rajur in the Yavatmal district of Maharashtra. From his school days, he was a deserving student. After his education, he attended Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology in Nagpur to pursue B.Tech. in Mechanical Engineering in 1973. Later, he had to drop out of a master’s program at the best engineering school in India; since he could not pay the fee. In 1982, he completed an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad. Subsequently, he obtained a PhD in Cyber Modeling from the University of Mumbai in 1993. He did his PhD while working as an executive at Bharat Petroleum in Mumbai. Teltumbde has also received an honorary doctorate (D. Litt) from Karnataka State Open University. He has enjoyed a successful career as a management professional and, after serving as a professor at the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur, he became a professor at the Goa Institute of Management. Before pursuing a career in academia, he was an executive at Bharat Petroleum and a managing director at Petronet India Limited.
Family and caste
Anand Teltumbde belongs to a family of Dalit agricultural workers.
Fathers and brothers
His parents were farm workers in Maharashtra. His mother’s name is Anusaya. He is the oldest of eight siblings. His brother, Milind Teltumbde, has allegedly been involved in Naxalite activities.
Relationships, wife and children
Anand Teltumbde is married to Rama Teltumbde, BR Ambedkar’s great-granddaughter, and the couple have two daughters: Prachi and Rashmi.
Civil rights activist
Anand Teltumbde is a very popular civil rights activist in India and has widely advocated for the rights of Dalits. His activism began back in 1967 when 14-year-old Anand Teltumbde was studying in the ninth grade at a school in the city of Wani in the Yavatmal district of Maharashtra. At his school, he rebelled against the “Brahmin” students with black caps; instead of white caps that were part of the school uniform. RSS members often wear black caps. Since then, he has been defending the rights of Dalits.
Bhima Koregaon Case
Anand Teltumbde’s name was allegedly involved in the Bhima Koregaon case; an incident that occurred on January 1, 2018 in a Pune panchayat village called Bhima Koregaon in Maharashtra, where violence broke out after thousands of Dalits gathered at the Bhima Koregaon war memorial to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Battle from Koregaon in 1818. One person was killed in violence and many were injured. According to the police, the violence was provoked by participants of the Elgaar Parishad. The police went on to arrest almost 10 intellectuals and activists accused of having Maoist ties and instigating the violence of Bhima Koregaon.
Narendra Modi murder plot
Officials who investigated Bhima Koregaon’s violence later expanded into a wide-ranging conspiracy, including a plot to assassinate Narendra Modi. Aside from the nine people who were arrested in the case, Anand Teltumbde’s name was an addition to the list. Although the police did not give any details of their investigation, some of the charges against Teltumbde were reportedly based on four letters and a ledger entry that the police allegedly had recovered from the computer of another accused person in the investigation. Being a relentless critic of Narendra Modi was another clue cited by police behind the conspiracy; as at a literary festival in 2017, he called Narendra Modi a “quintessential narcissist” who could prove more dangerous than Hitler. He went on to cite that Mr. Modi’s policy, which had its roots in Hindu nationalism, amounted to “fascism plus something.”
Raids and arrests
On August 29, 2018, law enforcement officers raided his home in Goa in connection with his alleged links to the Bhima Koregaon violence and a Maoist plot to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Mr. Teltumbde was booked under the Illegal Activity (Prevention) Act, a law that makes it extremely difficult for the accused to obtain bail. After his arrest, he dismissed these allegations and said:
I can’t describe the humiliation. “
Against his arrest, he approached the Supreme Court to annul the First Informative Report (FIR) against him. Although the Supreme Court rejected his request, it gave him four weeks to request an advance bond. Later, a Pune court rejected his request for advance bail. Subsequently, he appealed to the Bombay High Court, and it was while traveling to Mumbai to meet with his lawyer that he was detained by the Pune police at the airport at 3.30 am on February 3, 2019. However, on the same day, a Pune the court ordered his immediate release; since the protection of the Supreme Court against detention was in force until February 11, 2019.
The clamor of the intellectuals for his arrest
The allegations against Mr. Teltumbde and his arrest shocked many in India and abroad, including author Arundhati Roy, who said:
Teltumbde’s arrest would silence a “powerful” voice with “an unblemished intellectual record.”
In addition, more than 150 organizations and intellectuals, including Cornel West and Noam Chomsky, signed a letter to Antonio Guterres (Secretary General of the United Nations), describing the charges as “fabricated” and calling for UN intervention.
After the Supreme Court dismissed his request for bail on March 16, 2020 and gave him three weeks to surrender, Anand Teltumbde surrendered to the National Investigative Agency (NIA) in Mumbai on April 14, 2020. His arrest was condemned by many intellectuals and historians. as Romila Thapar.
Facts / Trivia
- In his school days, he used to paint movie billboards for pocket money.
- In 1994, he wrote his first book in Marathi: Jagatikikaran Ani Dalit-Shoshit. Thereafter, he went on to write another 20 volumes, 11 monographs, and more than 500 articles.
- Although he has widely advocated for the rights of Dalits, he never faced discrimination himself. While talking about it, he says:
I have no particular memory of being discriminated against or an emotional trigger that can say that it made me who I am. But I do remember that some students (in Wani, where he enrolled after class VII), who came from wealthy families, looked down on those who, like us, came from the villages. I was creditable from the beginning and that gave me confidence from the beginning. “
- Anand first read Ambedkar during his pre-university days in the library of the Institute of Science at Nagpur University.
- Although he has written extensively on Ambedkar, he is more inspired by Marx. Referring to a biography of Stalin that he had won as a prize in a school competition in class VII, he says:
There was this folklore around (BR) Ambedkar that we had to become like him, a role model. But I was absorbed in Marx long before Ambedkar. “