One month after the associate professor in the University of Delhi’s English department and noted anti-caste activist Hany Babu MT was arrested by NIA in the Bhima Koregaon case, Dalit Camera organised a webinar titled “With Professor Hany Babu: Political Voices for Social Justice” on Saturday where parliamentarians and leaders from various political parties took part to raise their voice in support of the arrested professor.
54-year-old Hany Babu was arrested on July 28 by the NIA.
MPs, former MPs, and national office-bearers of several political parties accused the authorities of conducting blatant witch-hunting of academicians and activists who always stood with the marginalized in the name of investigations in the Bhima Koregaon case.
Fifteen activists and scholars have already been arrested in the case and nine out of these have been in jail for nearly two years, as undertrials.
Professor Babu has been a strong advocate for social justice and has worked strenuously in the anti-caste movement, speakers said in the webinar.
Dr. Udit Raj, former MP and national spokesperson of Congress pointed out that “the fascist government used Bhima Koregaon case as an excuse for targeting” Hany Babu and other academicians as part of silencing the intellectuals in India.
Raj who is also the founder and national chairman of the All India Confederation of SC/ST Organizations said that Babu has worked extensively against the Four-year Undergraduate Program (FYUP) in the University of Delhi which was discriminatory to the students belonging to the marginalized communities and the program was dropped in 2014. Udit Raj and Hany Babu jointly wrote an article in The Hindu on FYUP in 2013.
“I know him very well. I worked with him closely,” Raj said.
T. K. S. Elangovan, Rajya Sabha member, and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader called Hany Babu as a champion of social justice.
“His arrest shows how the government wants to make sure that no intellectual remains free to speak out against the regime. Initially, they killed intellectuals, now they are arresting them,” Elangovan noted.
DMK leader said that four professors including Babu who worked for the welfare of Dalits and marginalized groups in the country were arrested over flimsy and fabricated charges.
Elangovan also urged political parties to unite and raise their voice against the recent arrests of academicians.
Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader and MP Manoj Jha condemned Babu’s arrest and expressed his and his party RJD’s full solidarity with the jailed professor.
“The government is trying to strip off professor Hany Babu’s dignity, forcing him to give false testimony in the case and framing him as a person who has close Maoist ties. Hany has always raised his voice for the need for inclusive institutional policies. He fought the system that discriminates against students based on their caste, hence why he’s arrested and held in prison,” said E.T. Mohammed Basheer, MP and the leader of Indian Union Muslim League (IUML).
“There should be space to question the power and hierarchy,” Basheer added.
He also ensured that Muslim League’s four MPs will stand for justice for Hany Babu in the Parliament.
According to Raj Kumar Saini, former MP and Loktantra Suraksha Party leader, Babu was a strong voice of Bahujans in India.
Saini who condemned the NIA arrest criticised BJP’s efforts to suppress Bahujan intellectuals and leaders in the country.
“Hany babu has done a great job in the matter of reservations including legal interventions,” K. Ambujakshan, general secretary of Welfare Party of India expressed his solidarity and support to professor Babu.
“When criminals are in power, Intellectuals are in jail,” said Dalit leader Ambujakshan.
Annie Raja, CPI leader and General Secretary of National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW) said that Hany Babu strongly believed in the Constitution and wanted to translate the constitutional rights in the lives of Dalits, tribals, and Bahujans in the country.
The webinar also had Dr.Harish MT, brother of Hany Babu who said that the government thinks they can use this case to silence the academicians.
“They are not even filing the charge sheet properly,” Harish also demanded the immediate release of his brother and all political prisoners who were arbitrarily arrested and falsely framed by NIA and police.
Sachin Narayanan, an assistant professor of English in Delhi University and representative of the Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA) expressed his thanks for all lawmakers and politicians who joined the campaign for Hany Babu.