Anand Teltumbde is one of the foremost public intellectuals in India. He is a civil rights activist, scholar and senior professor of management at the Goa Institute of Management. He has written extensively on caste inequality. His significant works include ‘The Republic of Caste’, ‘The Radical in Ambedkar: Critical Reflections’ and ‘Hindutva and Dalits’, among others.
Life and Activism
He was born on 15 July 1950 in Rajur, a village in the Yavatmal district of Maharashtra state, to a family of Dalit farm labourers. He is the oldest among eight siblings. He is married to Rama Teltumbde who is a granddaughter of B. R. Ambedkar. He earned a mechanical engineering degree from Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology in 1973, an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad in 1982 and a PhD from the University of Mumbai in cybernetic modelling in 1993 while working as an executive at Bharat Petroleum. He was also awarded an honorary doctorate (D.Litt.) from the Karnataka State Open University.
Teltumbde was an executive at Bharat Petroleum and managing director of Petronet India Limited before becoming an academic.
He was a professor at the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur and later became a senior professor at the Goa Institute of Management. He contributes a column titled “Margin Speak” to Economic and Political Weekly and has also contributed to Outlook, Tehelka, The Wire and Seminar. His 2018 book, Republic of Caste, is a collection of essays that assesses the position of Dalits, including the relationship between caste and class. He advocates for a closer relationship between Marxism and the Ambedkarite movements in fighting for Dalit liberation, as well as reform of the reservation system
Circumstances of arrest
His house was raided in August 2018 in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case and was later formally arrested by the National Investigation Agency in 2020. His arrest received wide attention as he was arrested on the 129th birth anniversary of Dr B.R. Ambedkar.
Such a move by the BJP-led Union government was severely criticised by scholars and activists across the globe. It was considered an explicit attack on the legacy of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and the anti-caste movement. Several international organisations including well-known academicians and writers such as Noam Chomsky, Jean Drèze, Cornel West, and Arundhati Roy among others signed a letter to the United Nations calling out the fabricated charges and urging the UN to intervene.
Charges & Allegations
The FIR initially filed against him was under sections 153 (A), 505(1)(b), 117 read with 34 of the Indian Penal Code. Later sections 13, 16, 17, 18, 18(b), 20, 38, 39, and 40 of UAPA were added.
A special court denied his bail plea in July 2021, citing that it is a prima facie case against him. He is currently lodged in Taloja jail, Mumbai. In 2021, The Wire’s investigation discovered that his phone was infected by the Israeli spyware software Pegasus.
The Bombay High Court on 4 May 2022, rejected the petition filed by eight accused in the Bhima Koregaon caste violence case seeking default bail by challenging the Pune sessions court order taking cognizance of the charge sheet filed in the case. The Bench noted that no case was made for review as there were no factual errors in the bail order.
The Bombay High Court granted bail to Anand Teltumbde in November 2022. The Court observed, “It cannot be concluded that Teltumbde has indulged in a terrorist act” in the Bhima Koregaon, Elgaar Parishad Case.