Bhima Koregaon Case: Arrest of Delhi University Professor by NIA Triggers Outcry for His Release

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Prof. Hany Babu of the Department of English in Delhi University was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Tuesday.

Prof Hany Babu has strongly stood up against the efforts to bring down representation of Bahujan students in the university, strongly advocated against discriminatory admission policies, struggled for the implementation of OBC reservation and has been vocal against the 13-point roster system.

Mohd Aasif | Clarion India

NEW DELHI — After the formal announcement of the arrest of Prof. Hany Babu of University of Delhi by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in connection with the Bhima Koregaon-Elgar Parishad case, the Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) and students of Miranda House College, Delhi University (DU) condemned the move on Tuesday.

Prof. Babu of the Department of English in Delhi University was summoned as a witness and forced by the NIA to travel to Mumbai after being denied the option of video conferencing.

Babu, a known anti-caste activist, is the 12th person to be arrested in the case. Over the years, he has strongly stood up against the efforts to bring down representation of Bahujan students in the university, strongly advocated against discriminatory admission policies, struggled for the implementation of OBC reservation and has been vocal against the 13 point roster system.

“He is a brilliant linguist and a valued teacher”, reads the statement of the students of Miranda College.

The activists in the statement expressed their apprehensions, “Cooperating with the NIA since July 24th 2020, it quickly became clear that the questioning was merely a ruse to force Prof. Babu into providing false testimony against other persons and accepting allegations of being a functionary of the Maoists.”

His wife, Jenny Rowena, who teaches in the Department of English at Miranda House, indicated that during questioning, he was pressured to incriminate colleagues. “The officers interrogating him kept asking him if he suspected his students, co-workers or anyone else who could have perhaps done this [planted the file]. They wanted him to implicate more people”, said Jenny Rowena, quoted in the statement by the students of Miranda College.

Prof. Babu, says the statement, vehemently and consistently refused to agree to these ridiculous lies. “It is because of this that after five days of continuous harassment in the name of interrogation, the NIA, despite his presence in the NIA office, has now made him an accused and formally arrested him and is ironically seeking custodial interrogation”, the statement further reads.

In September 2019, Prof. Babu was subjected to a raid without a search warrant at his residence by the Maharashtra Police, recalls CASR. The supporters of Hany Babu suspect that the seized electronic devices are left open to tampering as no hash value (fingerprints for files) was provided of the seized articles. It can reveal the timestamp of activities on the device.

“In fact, it is clear now that there is a pattern of confiscating devices, planting fabricated evidence and conducting a media trial on this basis. Unfortunately, the courts have also turned a blind eye to these illegalities”, the statement further reads.

The entire process, as seen by activists and supporting students, is harassment and intimidation of persons who question the State and struggle for the rights of the marginalised and oppressed castes, classes and communities. The arrest of Hany Babu by the NIA is also seen as the conspiracy to ‘incarcerate’ and ‘silence’ a range of activists who have been speaking about the anti-people policies of the State. “This is also being done to divert attention away from the true perpetrators of the violence, Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote, both with ties to the RSS”, claims the statement.

According to the people in solidarity of Prof. Babu, it is intended to spread fear among the democratic and progressive spirited academics, activists, artists, journalists, lawyers, poets and trade unionists. It further said, “This arrest is likely to follow the predictable narrative of branding Prof. Babu an urban Naxal. These charges will remain unproven and unsubstantiated except through the deployment of the fabricated evidence which will not hold water under scrutiny of a fair trial.”

The purpose, suggest the statement, is not to prove guilt but to punish via a lengthy isolation and detention while being demonised by a State sponsored media witch hunt. The tactics are deployed curtailing the basic right to life of the persons targeted as seen in the case of the revolutionary poet Varavara Rao, Dr. GN Saibaba and Prof. Anand Teltumbde among others.

CASR urged all the progressive and democratic sections of the society to unite and condemn the arrest of Prof. Hany Babu and the threat of arrest looming over several more activists, artists and journalists.

The platform demanded the immediate release of all activists and intellectuals charged in the fabricated Bhima Koregaon case, immediate release of all anti-CAA, NRC and NPR activists, immediate release of all political prisoners and immediate de-congestion of prisons, repeal of all draconian laws including UAPA, PSA, NSA and others.

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