New Delhi: A team of Pune Police on Tuesday morning conducted searches at the Noida residence of Hany Babu MT, and English professor in Delhi University (DU), in connection with its probe into the 2017 Bhima Koregaon/Elgar Parishad case for his alleged Maoist links, police officials told the media.
According to Pune Assistant Commissioner of Police, Shivaji Pawar, no arrest was made during the search operation at the 45-year-old professor’s house in Sector 78 of Noida in Delhi NCR, as per a PTI report.
"We have conducted a search operation at Babu's residence in Noida in connection with the Elgaar Parishad case registered at the Vishrambaug police station in Pune," Pawar said, adding that police had recovered some electronic devices.
Babu was booked under Indian Penal Code sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 121 and 121A (waging or attempting to wage war against government), 124A (sedition), among others, the report said.
According to Times of India, the Pune Police alleged that Babu was in “touch with G N Saibaba”, a differently-abled DU professor who was convicted in March 2017 by a Gadhchiroli court for his ‘Maoist links’ and has been in jail.
Incidentally, Babu’s name does not figure in either in the FIR or the charge-sheet filed by the Pune Police before a special Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) court in Pune.
Meanwhile, in a social media post, Babu’s wife, Jenny Rowena, who is a lecturer in Delhi University’s Miranda House, alleged that the Pune Police entered their house at 6.30 am on Tuesday morning. "They said that my husband is involved in the Bhima Koregaon case and that for this, they could search our house without a search warrant."
She added that "They searched the house for up to six hours, took three books, his laptop, phone, hard disks and pen drives."
When asked, Babu told Deccan Herald, that this was part of tactics of "intimidation" towards those who raise their voice on issues. "This is a message that if you get involved in issues, you can be arrested. Even if they don't arrest me, this itself is a punishment. All my All my work over the years is in my laptop. Now, I don't have access to it. I don't know whether I will get back all those in full. For an academic, what can be worse," he said.
He said the police also changed the password of his email in his presence. Babu said all his academic-related activities, including students' assignments and other documents related to academics, were in his email and he cannot access it now.
Meanwhile, the raid at Babu’s residence was confirmed to PTI by the Noida Police.
"Video recording of whole proceedings was done, reasons for search were explained to him in English, a copy of seizure panchnama was given with his due acknowledgement," Noida Senior Superintendent of Police, Vaibhav Krishna, was quoted by PTI.
According to reports, the Pune Police team comprised a senior crime branch officer and cyber experts besides Pawar, the investigation officer in the case, while the Noida Police provided logistical support, he added.
Hany Babu is reportedly part of the Alliance for Social Justice, a platform of students, teachers, administrative staff and organisations of SC, ST, OBC and minority communities from DU and outside.
"Hany Babu is a professor with Delhi University, and a member of DUTA, whose biggest contribution has been to challenge the caste hegemony in appointments to the university. He is a dedicated teacher and activist who graduated in law to be more effective in his work," Bobby Kunhu, an activist and lawyer was quoted as saying in this report.
The Elgar Parishad, a conclave mainly organised and funded by two retired justices, was held at historic Shaniwar Wada in Pune on December 31, 2017, ahead of the 200th anniversary of the battle of Bhima Koregaon. The organsiers said the event was held “with the simple motive of spreading the message of fighting communal forces.”
The police, however, has alleged that speeches made at the conclave aggravated violence around Koregaon Bhima village in the district on January 1, 2018, in which one person was killed and several others were injured. Nine activists, including lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj, poet Varavara Rao, activist Vernon Gonsalves, have been arrested and jailed in Yerawada in connection with the case.