Nepali Citizens against the Arrest of Dr. Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha

Dear friends,

We, at Nepal Picture Library, have been watching the recent developments concerning the suppression of political and intellectual dissents in India with great distress. We have always felt strongly about the need to turn to our own histories, particularly looking at the neglected histories of Dalits and others pushed to the margins in order to find new political articulations for the present. Our book Dalit: A Quest for Dignity was meant precisely as a labour of this kind–reaching to the Dalit past in order to activate new schemes and horizons for our current struggles. The fact that the targeting of Dr. Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha, along with nine other progressive stalwarts earlier, revolves around the meaning of a 200-year-old battle at Bhima Koregaon is an incredibly significant point in our opinion. Dr. Teltumbde was one of the intellectuals who immediately saw the value in our work when we published Dalit: A Quest for Dignity. In addition to writing a praise for our book, he also impressed on us the need to take opportunities like these to compare notes about the similarities and differences between Nepal’s and India’s Dalit movements, as well as our broader political cultures and orientations towards our respective constitutions.

We cannot overstate how important the work and protests of people like Dr. Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha are. Their arrest is a matter not only for Indian progressives. The entanglements of history have ensured that this impinges also on our political imaginations here in Nepal. The team of Nepal Picture Library wishes to extend its unreserved solidarity to Dr. Anand Teltumbde, Gautam Navlakha and their defenders in India.

We are sharing a statement we have signed along with more than 200 Nepali writers, researchers, intellectuals, activists, artists, and other professionals.

Please share widely.


Diwas Raja Kc
Editor – DALIT: A Quest for Dignity
Nepal Picture Library


Nepali Citizens against the Arrest of Dr. Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha

Deploying the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), the Indian authorities decisively moved to detain eminent Indian scholar Dr. Anand Teltumbde and human rights activist Gautam Navlakha on April 14, 2020. Dr. Teltumbde, friend to the Dalit movement in Nepal, has written extensively about the caste system and has tirelessly advocated for the rights of Dalits. He cared about the constitutional reforms in Nepal and wanted to see that the flaws visible to him in the Indian Constitution were not repeated in Nepal.

These politically motivated arrests, coinciding with the birth anniversary of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, appears to us as a message not only to Dalits, Adivasis, OBCs, and other minorities in India but also to those in other parts of the subcontinent who have looked to the example of India’s secular and democratic innovations for inspiration. On behalf of the Nepali public, we strongly condemn these unjust arrests, especially in the context when even repressive regimes in other parts of the world are releasing political prisoners in the face of the COVID-19 crisis.

The Indian authorities have laid absurd allegations against Dr. Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha of seeking to overthrow the Indian government. This bizarre persecution by the Indian police started after the retaliatory violence by anti-Dalit vigilantes following Dalit protests and recognition of Bhima Koregoan in January 2018. Nine human rights activists (Varavara Rao, Sudha Bharadwaj, Shoma Sen, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Arun Ferreira, Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, and Vernon Gonsalves) have already been incarcerated for almost two years now in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case, with no sign of a trial commencing. All of them have been booked under the UAPA making bail impossible. This makes a mockery of the jurisprudence granting bail as a right.

In carrying out the arrests of Dr. Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha (both senior individuals), the Indian government demonstrates a galling neglect of the risks to their health. The death of either individual under Indian custody, a real possibility during the COVID-19 crisis, would be a stain on the conscience of the world.

It is outrageous that the Indian government, instead of defending human rights and securing the freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, is cracking down on the very people who fight for justice in India. More disturbingly, public comments by political actors have indicated that Dr. Teltumbde was singled out precisely because of his Dalit identity and activism. These measures by the Indian government are effectively an attempt to create a culture of state terror in the region. This is a violation of democratic principles as well as a dismissal of Dalit dissent.

We staunchly denounce the rise of these tactics in South Asian nations and beyond, and we call upon the Indian government to live up to the spirit of the Constitution and cease these assaults on civil liberties. We, the undersigned, call upon Dalit, Adivasi/Janajati, OBC, and other minority leaders throughout the world to seek the preservation of justice and equity.

We stand in solidarity with those who fight for justice and those who safeguard Dalit rights.

Signed by:

Aahuti Aahuti, Public Intellectual, Kathmandu
Aarti Basnyat, London, UK
Abhilash Acharya, Educator, Kathmandu
Agya Poudyal, Oxford, UK
Alina Saba, Researcher & Activist, Lalitpur
Amar Bk, Writer and Researcher, Kathmandu
Amina Singh, Adjunct Faculty, Kathmandu University, Kathmandu
Amish Raj Mulmi, Writer/Editor, Kathmandu
Amita Sharma, Lawyer, Kathmandu
Amuda Mishra, Gender Expert, Kathmandu
Anish Shrestha, Youth Social Activist, Kathmandu
Anup Baral, Actor, Director and Conceptual Artist, Actors’ Studio, Kathmandu
Anushila Bhattarai, Activist, Kathmandu
Archana Thapa, Writer, Akshar Creations Nepal, Kathmandu
Aryan Rajak, Actor & Social Activist, Kathmandu
Ashmina Ranjit, Artivist, LASANAA, Kathmandu
Atul Bhattarai, Writer, Kathmandu
Babita Rai, Activist and Writer, Dharan
Balram Prasad Raut, Assistant Professor, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu
Bandana Dhakal, Writer, Kathmandu.
Bandana Sharma, Development Consultant
Bandana Sinha, Activist, Kathmandu
Basanta Ranjitkar, Activist, LASANAA, Kathmandu
Basudha Gurung, Advisor, FIAN Nepal, Kathmandu
Bhogiraj Chamling, Writer and Researcher, Khotang
Bhola Paswan, Writer and Researcher, Saptari
Bikash Basnet, Writer, Kathmandu
Bikash Shrestha, Journalist, Kathmandu
Bikkil Sthapit, Activist, Kathmandu
Bimal Khadka, Principal, K&K College, Kathmandu
Binda Pandey, Trade Union/Political activist, Kathmandu
Binod Bikram Kc, Poet, Kathmandu
Brabim Kumar, Activist, Kathmandu
Bunu Dhungana, Nepal Picture Library, Kathmandu
Chandreshwor Das, Activist, Dhanusha
Chandreshwor Sada, Activist, Dhanusha
Charan Prasain, Human Rights Activist, Kathmandu
Deepak Adhikari, Journalist, Kathmandu
Deepak Paudel, Educator, Kathmandu
Deepak Thapa, Researcher, Kathmandu
Dewan Rai, Writer, Kathmandu
Dhana Kumari Sunar, Poet and Activist, Kathmandu
Dikshya Khadka, Community Leader, Kathmandu
Dil Karki, MD Nepal Memorable Tours, Kathmandu
Dinesh Kafle, Writer, Kathmandu
Dipendra Paswan, Saptari
Dishebh Raj Shrestha, Graphic Designer, Square Studio, Kathmandu
Diwas Raja Kc, Nepal Picture Library, Kathmandu
Dr. Dovan Rai, Writer and Researcher, Kathmandu
Dr. Gopal Krishna Shiwakoti, President, INHURED International, Kathmandu
Dr. Renu Adhikari, Founding Chairperson, WOREC, Kathmandu
Dr. Sachin Ghemere, Medical Anthropologist, Kathmandu
Dr. Saroj Dhital, General Surgeon, Kathmandu
Dr. Vishnu Singh Rai, Writer, Kathmandu
Dwarika Thebe, Writer & Researcher, Ilam
Ekal Silwal, Journalist, Kathmandu
Ganesh Bk, Chairperson, RDN Nepal, Nepal.
Geeta Sharma, Protection Expert, Kathmandu
Gurung Sushanta, Writer, Bhaktapur
Harinandan Ambedkar, Activist, Sarlahi
Heema Rai, Agricultural Engineer, Khotang
Hemanta Kumar Khatiwada, Sydney, Australia
Indira Ghale, Human Rights Activist and Social Worker, Kathmandu
Ishwari Bhattarai, Researcher, Lalitpur
Ishwor Shrestha, Buddhist Academician, Kathmandu
Itisha Giri, Writer and Podcaster, Madrid
J.B. Biswokarma, Chairperson, Dignity Initiative, Kathmandu
Janak Rai, Department of Anthropology, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu
Janardan Thapa, West Bengal, India
Jay Poudyal, Photographer, Stories of Nepal, Kathmandu
JB Pun Magar, Journalist, Kathmandu
Kabin Maleku, Pharmacist, Kathmandu
Kabita Bahing Rai, Kathmandu
Kabita Parajuli, Attorney, Portland, Oregon
Kalyan Pokhrel, Executive Member, Supreme Court Bar Association, Nepal
Kamal Pathak, Kathmandu
Karan Shrestha, Artist & Filmmaker, Kathmandu
Karma Tshering Gurung, Photographer, Kathmandu
Kashiram Dhungana, Human Rights Lawyer, Kathmandu
Khem Shreesh, Researcher, Kathmandu
Khyamu “Gaunle” Biswokarma, Dalit Activist and Researcher, Kathmandu
Kishor Sharma, Photographer, Kathmandu
Kripa Dongol, Geographer, University of Colorado, Boulder
Krishna Gopal Ranjit, Artist, Kathmandu
Krishna Maharjan, Disability Rights Activist, Lalitpur
Kumudini Gurung, Shikshya Foundation Nepal, Kathmandu
Kumud Rana, Researcher, UK/Nepal
Leah Everest, New Zealand
Lhamo Yangchen Sherpa, Sr. Advisor Research & M&E, Kathmandu
Luna Ranjit, Writer, Kathmandu
Luv Yadav, Educator, Kathmandu
Madhusudhan Subedi, Professor, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu
Mallika Aryal, Journalist, Oslo, Norway
Mandira Sharma, Human Rights Advocate and Researcher, UK/Nepal
Mani Sharma, Publisher, Sangrila Books, Kathmandu
Manjushree Thapa, Author, Toronto
Manoj Paswan, Human Rights Activist, Sarlahi
Manushi Yami Bhattarai, Samajwadi Party, Kathmandu
Matina Maharjan, Architect, Kathmandu
Mausham Shakya, Psychological Well-Being Coach, Kathmandu
Milan Kumar Singh Tharu, Educator, Kathmandu
Mohan Kumar Karn, Terai Human Rights Defenders Alliance, Kathmandu
Mukesh Jha, Madhesi Youth Leader, Kathmandu
Muna Gurung, Writer, Kathmandu
Nasala Chitrakar, Poet and Educator, Kathmandu
Nayan P. Sindhuliya, Researcher, Kathmandu
NayanTara Gurung Kakshapati, Photo Circle, Kathmandu
Nirajan Thapaliya, Rights Activist, Kathmandu
Niraj Lawoju, Writer and Activist, Bhaktapur
Niranjan Kunwar, Writer and Educational Consultant, Kathmandu
Nirvaya Subedi, Writer, Kathmandu
Nischal Neupane, Researcher, Amherst, USA
Nyima Dorjee, Researcher, Kathmandu
Pemba Sherpa, Aviation, Solukhumbu
Phurwa D. Gurung, Geographer, University of Colorado Boulder, USA
Pooja Pant, VOW Media, Kathmandu
Prabindra Shakya, Community Empowerment and Social Justice Network, Kathmandu
Pradip Pariyar, Samata Foundation, Lalitpur
Pradipta Kadambari, Principal, Kadambari Memorial College, Kathmandu
Prakash Aryal, Lawyer, Kathmandu
Prakash Mahara, Human Rights Activist, Kathmandu
Pranab Man Singh, Quixote’s Cove, Kathmandu
Pranaya Rana, The Kathmandu Post, Kathmandu
Pranika Koyu, Poet, Kathmandu
Prasiit Sthapit, Photographer, Fuzz Factory Productions, Kathmandu
Pratima Thakali, Artist, Kathmandu
Praveen Kumar Yadav, Activist and Researcher, Kathmandu
Prawin Adhikari, Writer, Lalitpur
Priyanka Bista, KTK-BELT, Kathmandu
Rabindra Baniya, Actor, Kathmandu
Rabin Sayami, Cartoonist, Kathmandu
Ragendra Nath Shrestha, Kathmandu
Rahul Rajak, Law Student, Rautahat
Rajendra Maharjan, Writer, Kathmandu
Rajkumar Paswan, Saptari
Raj Rajak, Ambedkarite and Bahujan activist, Kathmandu
Raju Prasad Chapagai, Constitutional/Human Rights Lawyer, Kathmandu
Raju Sarkar, Human Right Activist, Kathmandu
Raju Syangtan, Poet, Kathmandu
Raju Yonjan, Art Entrepreneur, Kathmandu
Rakesh Dongol, System Engineer, Kathmandu
Rakesh Kayastha, Filmmaker, Kathmandu
Rakesh Mishra, Social Activist, Biratnagar
Raksha Ram Harijan, Advocate, Kathmandu
Ramesh Singh, International Development Consultant, Bangkok
Ram Gurung, Writer and Researcher, Kathmandu
Ram Kumar Bhandari, Social Justice Activist, Kathmandu
Ram Shrestha, Researcher, Global Institute for Policy Studies, Kathmandu
Riban Mangrati, Dalit Readers, Kathmandu
Rita Baramu, Body & Data, Kathmandu
Rochak Dahal, Lalitpur
Rojita Adhikari, Writer, Kathmandu
Rukamanee Maharjan, Assistant Professor, Nepal Law Campus
Rukh Gurung, Researcher, Kathmandu
Rukshana Kapali, Queer Rights Activist, Kathmandu
Rupak Shrestha, Geographer, Boulder, Colorado
Rup Sunar, Dignity Initiative, Kathmandu
Rushil Shakya, Technologist, NYC/Kathmandu
Sabin Ninglekhu, Researcher, Nanyang Technological University
Sabitri Gautam, Writer, Pokhara
Sagar Chhetri, Photographer,, Kathmandu
Sagarika Bhatta, Powershift Nepal, Kathmandu
Sagar Manandhar, Artist, Kathmandu
Samip Dhungel, Poet, Kathmandu
Sampreety Gurung, Cornell University, USA
Samrat Katwal, Development Worker, Kathmandu
Sandesh Ghimire, Student, University of Minnesota, USA
Sangeet Srota, Writer, Kathmandu
Sangita Thebe Limbu, Researcher/Graduate Student, Oxford, UK
Sanjay Sharma, PhD Scholar, Singapore
Sanjay Yadav, Youth Leader, Human Rights Activist, Rautahat
Sanjeev Maharjan, Visual Artist/Art Educator, Kathmandu
Sanjeev Uprety, Writer, Kathmandu
Sanjog Thakuri, Feminist Activist, Kathmandu
Santosh Pariyar, Educator, Kathmandu
Sarita Pariyar, Darnal Award for Social Justice, Kathmandu
Sarita Tiwari, Writer, Chitawan
Shailendra Ambedkar, Human Rights Lawyer, Bhairahawa
Sharareh Bajracharya, Art Educator, Srijanalaya, Kathmandu
Shikhar Bhattarai, Photographer,, Kathmandu
Shiva Hari Gyawali, Writer, Kathmandu
Shova Ranjit, Housewife, Kathmandu
Shradha Ghale, Writer, Kathmandu
Shrochis Karki, Researcher, Oxford UK
Shubha Kayastha, Body & Data, Bhaktapur
Sirjana Pant, Public Health Worker, Kathmandu
Slesh Shrestha, Professor of Economics, Singapore
Smriti Rai, Development Professional, Dharan
Sohan Prasad Sha, Researcher, Kathmandu
Sona Katik, Kapilvastu
Sophia Pande, Kathmandu
Subima Shrestha, Kathmandu
Subina Shrestha, Journalist, Filmmaker
Sudhir Shah, International Marketing Manager, Kathmandu
Sujan Chitrakar, Artist, Kathmandu
Sumitra Bogati, Spoken Word Poet, Kathmandu
Sumitra Manandhar Gurung, Mahila Sahayatra, Chitlang
Sunil Kumar Sarbariya, Dalit Activist, Sapatari
Sunil Shakya, Indigenous Art Promoter, Kathmandu
Supriya Manandhar, Artist, Lalitpur
Suresh Kiran, Poet, Kathmandu
Suresh Thapa, Software Engineer, Lalitpur
Sushan Acharya, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu
Sushma Joshi, Writer and Filmmaker, Kathmandu
Suvani Singh, Quixote’s Cove, Kathmandu
Tashi Tsering Tewa, Washington University in Saint Louis, USA
Tripty Tamang Pakhrin,, Kathmandu
Tsering D Gurung, Writer/Journalist, Kathmandu
Tula Narayan Shah, Activist, Nepal Madhesh Foundation, Kathmandu
Ujjwala Maharjan, Poet, Educator, Word Warriors, Kathmandu
Ujjwal Prasai, Writer Activist, Kathmandu
Weena Pun, Cornell University, USA
Yug Pathak, Writer, Kathmandu
Yuqtilal Marik, Chair, Dalit Sarokar Manch Nepal, Kathmandu
Yutsha Dahal, Nepal Picture Library, Kathmandu