MUMBAI: The Shiv Sena Wednesday backed police action against activist and academic Anand Teltumbde, drawing parallels between the tactics of those linked to the Elgar Parishad conclave and that of terror outfit al-Qaeda.
Reacting to the diatribe, Teltumbde said he was at his wits' end as false allegations were levelled against him.
In an editorial in the party mouthpiece `Saamana', the Sena said attacking the credentials of police, administration and judiciary, raising doubts about the state government and demoralising people was a strategy adopted by al-Qaeda.
"People supporting Elgar Parishad also have a similar strategy," the editorial said. Teltumbde, who the police claim has Maoist links, is an accused in the Elgar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon case.
The case was filed after violent clashes at Koregaon-Bhima on January 1, 2018, a day after the Elgar Parishad conclave at Pune.
Teltumbde was arrested last week but released soon afterwards following a sessions court order.
According to Pune Police, inflammatory speeches at Elgar Parishad triggered the violence at Koregaon-Bhima, and the conclave was funded and supported by the Maoists.
"The Koregaon-Bhima riots where Dalits were attacked has caused a vertical split in society. Sowing the seeds of rebellion, creating and spreading such literature and raising funds for it is the actual work of Maoist intellectuals. Al- Qaeda and intellectuals linked to Elgar have a similar style of functioning," the Sena said.
Even those facing charges of murder, corruption and massacre get acquitted at times, which does not necessarily mean they are innocent, the Sena said.
Teltumbde's supporters should know this, it added. It claimed some serious "anti-national activities" were being planned.
Portraying police as criminals was the beginning of such a conspiracy, the party added. "Hence, this is the right time to stand firmly with police," the Uddhav Thackeray-led party said.
It also objected to the term 'Dalit academic' used to refer to Teltumbde, saying it was an insult to tag caste with a person's intelligence.
"People having a soft corner towards the Naxal movement cooked up the plan to spew venom of casteism in Maharashtra," the editorial alleged, adding that "bogus intellectuals" reacted to the action against Teltumbde and others including Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and Sudha Bharadwaj as if the "sky was falling".
The court offered them, including Teltumbde, some respite, but does it mean police should not do anything, wondered the Sena, a BJP ally.
"Police have presented proof of their speeches and venom-spewing literature. All these people were key to (the conspiracy to) destabilise the country," the Sena alleged.
Their high academic qualifications have offered them some prestige and they created good contacts in the fields of administration, law and judiciary and education, it said.
"These people have used this network to spread destructive thoughts of Naxalites and Maoism," the editorial said.
In a way, these people are "sponsors or preachers of terrorism", it said, adding that intellectuals also need to abide by the law. These people despise 'Hindutva' and defame the country on international platforms, the editorial said.
"(Dalit leader) Prakash Ambedkar calls RSS a terrorist organisation. Ambedkar's associates are AIMIM leader Owaisi and they support (former JNU student leader) Kanhaiya Kumar, Teltumbde and (Dalit activist and Gujarat MLA) Jignesh Mevani. RSS is a radical nationalist organisation," it said.
Responding to the Sena's charge, Teltumbde said, "I am at my wits' end. They have levelled every possible charge that could be levelled against people like me.
"Whatever is happening to people like us, it is beyond logic. They have levelled false charges. Whatever these people are doing to us is beyond tolerance," he said.
Former Supreme Court justice P B Sawant, one of the organisers of Elgar Parishad, called the Sena's equating of the platform with al-Qaeda as "childish".
"This is sheer childish. Those who have written it will get exposed on their own," Sawant said.
"Such a comment also underscores their own low level of thinking. There is no need to even acknowledge them (by reacting)," Sawant added. Teltumbde has got interim protection from arrest from the High Court till February 12.