The arrest of Professor Hany Babu MT on Tuesday (28th July) by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has been condemned by a section of the Delhi University fraternity and some student outfits, saying that it is an obvious attempt to silence dissent.
Arrested on Tuesday (28th July) in connection with the Bhima Koregaon Elgar Parishad Case, Hany Babu MusaliyarveettilTharayil is an associate professor in the Department of English. He has been accused of propagating Naxal activities and Maoist ideology and of being a co-conspirator in the case by the NIA. A professor at Miranda House College, Abha Dev Habib, said that the news of his arrest was shocking. Hany Babu's wife, Jenny Rowena also teaches at Miranda House College. Abha Dev Habib said that he has always used his voice for the marginalized students and is a pro-democracy activist. Putting him in jail in the current situation (amid the COVID-19 pandemic) is like giving a death sentence. She said that the protests will continue until he is released.
A Professor, wishing to be anonymous, said Babu had applied for leave a few days ago to go to Maharashtra for some personal work. He added the news of his arrest was very disturbing. In a statement released by a group of students of Miranda House, it was said that they stood in solidarity with the Professor and are against this continued campaign of using intimidation tactics under the garb of an investigation. The students have claimed that Rowena, who teaches in the Department of English at Miranda House, indicated that Hany was pressured to implicate his colleagues during questioning. The statement further said, “As students from marginalized communities, we owe to his struggle for the space academicians like him have created for us in universities, and the strength that we derive from his work for our struggled against injustices.” A student of Delhi University's English Department, Nalini, said, "Ambedkarite intellectual and anti-caste activist Hany Babu's arrest is yet another draconian attack on the democratic ethos of India and a blatant attempt to silence dissent by the Modi government. This attack upon intellectuals should alarm all progressive voices in the country." A final-year student of English Hons., requesting to be anonymous, said that Hany Babu is a much better person than he is being made out to be and everyone knows what is happening in the current time and how there has been a witch-hunt of activists. Hany Babu was the linguistics Professor of the final-year student. The Delhi Unit President of the All India Students' Union (AISA), Kawalpreet Kaur, tweeted, “The news has hit home. Delhi University Professor, Hany Babu has been arrested by NIA in the Bhima Koregaon case. Everyone in the academic fraternity must oppose this arbitrary use of power and give unflinching support to the professor. This witch-hunting against democratic voices must end.” AISA, backed by the Left, said that false charges and lies have been the technique of NIA and investigative agencies. AISA added, “The arrest of Professor Hany Babu proves that the Modi government wants to silence and harass the forces that are pro-democracy.” The AISA further said that from anti-CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) activists to pro-democracy activists, intellectuals and academics, no one is being spared by the BJP government in its attempt to weaken democracy. It also demanded Hany Babu's immediate release. Hany Babu’s laptop and mobile phone were seized in September last year by the officers of the Pune police, which was earlier probing the case. Searches at his residence in Noida were also conducted. The umbrella body of student outfits and civil society organizations, Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) called his arrest clear harassment and intimidation of persons questioning the State and struggle for the rights of the marginalized 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, CASR said. Immediate release of all activists and intellectuals arrested in the Bhima Koregaon case was demanded by CASR. The case is related to an Elgar Parishad event organized on 31st December 2017 by the Kabir Kala Manch at Shaniwarwada in Pune. It is alleged that provocative speeches were made during the event that promoted enmity between various caste groups and ultimately leading to violence which resulted in the loss of life and property and state-wide agitation in Maharashtra.