NIA arrests Delhi University professor Hany Babu in Bhima Koregaon case

Delhi University fraternity and some student outfits condemned the arrest of professor Hany Babu saying it was "a blatant attempt to silence dissent"

Hany Babu MT is an associate professor in the Department of English, Delhi University. Photo:Twitter

The NIA on Tuesday (July 28) arrested an associate professor of Delhi University in connection with the Bhima Koregaon Elgar Parishad case, an official said.

Hany Babu Musaliyarveettil Tharayil, 54, a resident of Gautam Buddha Nagar in Uttar Pradesh, is an associate professor in the Department of English, a spokesperson of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) said. The NIA accused him of propagating Naxal activities and Maoist ideology and being a “co-conspirator” in the case.

The case relates to an Elgar Parishad event of December 31, 2017, organised by the Kabir Kala Manch at Shaniwarwada in Pune, where alleged provocative speeches were made, promoting enmity between various caste groups and leading to violence resulting in loss of life and property and statewide agitation in Maharashtra.

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During investigation, it was revealed that senior leaders of the CPI (Maoist), a banned organisation under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, were in contact with the organisers of Elgar Parishad as well as the accused arrested in the case to spread the ideology of Maoism/Naxalism and encourage unlawful activities, the official said.

The Pune police filed a charge sheet and a supplementary charge sheet in the case on November 15, 2018 and February 21, 2019 respectively.

The NIA took up the investigation of the case on January 24 this year and arrested Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha on April 14.

During further investigation, it was revealed that Hany Babu was propagating Naxal activities and Maoist ideology and was a “co-conspirator” with the other arrested accused. He will be produced before a special NIA court in Mumbai on Wednesday and his police custody will be sought for custodial interrogation, the official said, adding that further investigation in the case was underway.

A section of the Delhi University fraternity and some student outfits condemned the arrest of professor Hany Babu saying it was “a blatant attempt to silence dissent”. The news of his arrest was “shocking”, said Abha Dev Habib, a professor at Miranda House college where Hany Babus wife Jenny Rowena also teaches. “He has risen as the voice of marginalised students and is a pro-democracy activist. If you put anyone in jail now (amid the COVID-19 pandemic), it is like giving death sentence.We will continue to protest for his release,” she said.

The Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), an umbrella body of student outfits and civil society organisations, called his arrest “blatant harassment and intimidation of persons who question the State and struggle for the rights of the marginalised and oppressed castes, classes and communities”. Hany Babu has been an anti-caste activist who has been consistently fighting for social justice within and outside the university space, it said.

CASR demanded immediate release of all activists and intellectuals arrested in the Bhima Koregaon case.

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