The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has summoned two scholar-activists of repute and a journalist for questioning in connection with the Elgar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon case.
Dalit scholar and activist K Satyanarayana, who teaches at English and Foreign Language (EFL) University in Hyderabad, has been asked to appear before the investigating agency’s Mumbai office on September 9 as a witness.
Disclosing this in a statement, Satyanarayana said his co-brother K V Kurmanath, a senior Hyderabad-based journalist, too has been summoned by the NIA to appear before it on the same day in Mumbai.
The central agency also summoned Partho Sarothi Ray, a Kolkata-based professor of the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), for questioning in these cases. Ray, a biologist, has been asked to appear before the NIA’s Mumbai’s office at 11 am on September 10.
Satyanarayana is the son-in-law of Telugu poet-activist Varavara Rao, who was arrested in the Elgar Parishad cases on August 31, 2018.
“As you know, my flat was raided by Pune police in August 2018 under the pretext of collecting evidence against my father in law and revolutionary poet Varavara Rao,” Satyanarayana said in a statement. “I stated then that I was in no way connected to the Bhima Koregaon case. The fact of Varavara Rao being my father in law was used to raid my house and cause mental agony.”
Reiterating that he had no connection with the Bhima Koregaon case, the professor said the NIA’s notice adds “to our family distress at a time when Varavara Rao’s health condition is not very good and the pandemic is fast spreading in Mumbai. I have been summoned to Mumbai in these terrible times.”
Ray too said he had no connection with the case.
“The agency (NIA) summoned me as a witness in the case under Article 160 CrPC. Therefore, there is no charge against me. I have no connection with this case because I have never been to Bhima Koregaon. I was not even aware of the incident until I read about it in the papers,” Ray was quoted as saying by the PTI.
The virologist is also a renowned social activist associated with the Persecuted Prisoners Solidarity Committee (PPSC) and other human rights advocacy groups.
The notice served to Ray, who was one of the scientists from India consulted by the WHO to judge the character of the coronavirus, has raised concern among West Bengal’s rights groups and intellectuals.
The Democratic Research Scholars Organisations, in a statement, said, “With great worry and concern we witness the horrible assaults on academic and intellectual community in India… The summoning of famous scientist, leading virologist and a front runner in the fight against Covid-19 Prof Dr Partho Sarothi Ray by the NIA is the latest addition to the list.”
“We on behalf of the DRSO strongly condemn the action of harassing such great minds of our country. We urge the government to immediately refrain from harassing them and stop the horrible assault on democracy at large,” the statement said.
Ray also had a run-in with the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress government in West Bengal in 2012 when he was arrested for participating in an anti-eviction demonstration at Nonadanga slum in east Kolkata.