The Committee for the Defence and Release of Dr. G N Saibaba has strongly condemned the arrest of Dr. Hany Babu M. T., a well-known scholar, social activist and teacher with the Department of English, University of Delhi, by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in Mumbai in connection with the Bhima Koregaon-Elgar Parishad case.
The statement reads: “Dr Hany Babu is a highly respected academic with several significant publications to his credit, including Breaking the Chaturvarna System of Languages and Unequal Rights: Freedom, Equality, Life and Liberty of Citizens and Others.”
Babu who was arrested on Tuesday in connection with the case was produced before the special NIA court on Wednesday morning and he was sent to NIA custody till August 4.
“Hany Babu was also known for his commitment to the Ambedkarite cause of anti-caste struggle and social justice. He has been repeatedly instrumental in ensuring that candidates belonging to the SC, ST and OBC communities get their due in admissions and appointments in Delhi University,” said the Committee for the Defence and Release of G N Saibaba, an action committee formed by activists and academicians for the release of G N Saibaba, a former DU professor serving life sentence over charges of having Maoist links.
Hany Babu was also the Convenor for the same committee.
“Dr. Hany Babu has been cooperating with the NIA since they raided his house in NOIDA without a warrant on September 10, 2019. During the raid, the various devices that were ‘seized’ by the police (laptop, phone) were taken without providing any details such as hash value, which gives the time of any electronic activity on the device. Thus, the NIA’s claim that there was a partition on Dr. Babu’s hard drive is questionable, when he has himself denied that he had created any such drive partition,” reads the statement issued by Professor G Haragopal who is a Visiting Professor at NLSIU, Bengaluru and the Chairperson of the Committee for the Defence and Release of Dr. G N Saibaba.
“When he reached Mumbai on July 24 2020, he realised that the ‘questioning’ was merely a pretext to try and coerce and intimidate him into providing false testimony and admissions. It is now clear that Hany Babu’s refusal to succumb to this coercion, despite suffering five days of continuous harassment in the name of interrogation, is what has led the NIA to charge him formally as a “co-conspirator” in the Bhima Koregaon-Elgar Parishadcase and arrest him. Given that he has been present throughout this time in the NIA office, the fact that they have sought to retain him for “custodial interrogation” is very ominous,” it adds.
The Committee said this arrest is in continuation with the state’s concerted efforts to intimidate and get rid of all dissenting voices, especially of those who are engaged in campaigns for social justice and equality.
“Beginning with the arrest of G N Saibaba, there has been a pattern of naming, framing, and arresting. Dr. Hany Babu’s arrest is the latest in a series of arrests that bode ill for the future of Indian democracy. Like the 11 others who were arrested before him as accused in the Bhima Koregaon-Elgar Parishad case, Babu has also been accused of being a Maoist conspirator. It has now become patent that the epithet ‘Urban Naxal’ is now becoming a maintainable charge without a legal base. It is significant that the epithet has been most often deployed for academics, intellectuals, artists, writers, journalists and students: it is clearly intended to discourage, dissuade and intimidate any impulse toward critical thinking and questioning, especially in the academic community,” it further said.
The Committee for the Defence and Release of G N Saibaba demanded the immediate and unconditional release of Dr. Hany Babu and all other political prisoners who have been similarly framed and arrested.
The government immediately repeal draconian laws like the UAPA as demonstrate a semblance of commitment to democracy, the body comprising many academicians said in the statement.