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Tuesday, Oct 15, 2019

Bhima Koregaon violence case: Search at Noida house of DU professor

The police team took away his laptop, mobile phone, hard drives and some books.

india Updated: Sep 11, 2019 01:03 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
New Delhi/Noida/Pune
Hany Babu, a DU professor, saw his premises searched as police suspected his involvement, in connection with the 2018 Bhima Koregaon violence case.
Hany Babu, a DU professor, saw his premises searched as police suspected his involvement, in connection with the 2018 Bhima Koregaon violence case. (englishdu.ac.in)
         

The Maharashtra police on Tuesday conducted a search at the house of a Delhi University (DU) teacher, Hany Babu in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, in connection with the 2018 Bhima Koregaon violence case. The police team took away his laptop, mobile phone, hard drives and some books.

They did not arrest Babu, though.

Babu, an associate professor at DU’s department of English, denied any involvement in the case and said he is being “unnecessarily targeted”. According to him, a combined team of Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh police reached his house at around 6:30 am on Tuesday. “They read out a statement saying that they suspect my involvement in the Bhima Koregaon violence case. They conducted a search till 11 am and seized my electronic devices and some books. They even took my phone,” Babu said.

On January 1, 2018, violence erupted in the Bhima Koregaon village of Maharashtra during an annual celebration to mark the 200th anniversary of a battle at the site between the Marathas and the British armies. One person died and several were injured. Months later, nine activists were arrested in the case.

Babu is also the convener of the committee for the defence and release of GN Saibaba in DU. Saibaba, who is 90% disabled, was sentenced to life by a sessions court in the Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra in March 2014 for his alleged links with Maoists. “They checked each and every book of mine. I asked them to at least leave my academic work but they took it all, saying that it will be returned after the investigation. It was literally the work of my lifetime. I have no clue what I will do without it,” Babu added.

DCP crime (Pune) branch Bachchan Singh said in a statement that “the search was conducted with respect to an offence registered at Elgar Parishad Vishrambaug police station in Pune city under several sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) including 153 (A) (Promoting enmity between different groups), 120 (B) criminal conspiracy, 121 (A) (attempting to wage war) and 13,16, 17,18,18(B),20,38,39 and 40 of Unlawful Activities Preventive Act, 1967.”

Vineet Jaiswal, SP (city) Noida, said that they were approached by the Pune Police’s crime branch on Monday. “They informed us that Babu is a suspect in a case. They sought Noida Police’s coordination to ensure enforcement of law and order. A video recording of whole proceeding was done and reasons for the search were explained to him (Babu) in English and a copy of the seizure panchnama was given with his due acknowledgement. There was no arrest,” he said.

DU teachers condemned the search and Delhi University Teacher’s Association (DUTA) released a statement, terming it an attack on “academic freedom”. “Hany Babu has been working in DU for more than a decade. He has not only been an outstanding teacher, but also an active participant in the struggle for academic freedom, democratic rights,and lawful and democratic functioning of the university. Such raids without search warrants are against the very essence of democracy, individual freedom, and open the door for planting evidence. We demand an immediate end to such blatantly threatening postures towards voices of dissent and democracy,” said DUTA president Rajib Ray.

Five activists arrested in June 2018 --lawyer Surendra Gadling, English teacher Shoma Sen, poet Sudhir Dhawale, and human rights activists Mahesh Raut and Rona Wilson -- are still in jail with cases against them being heard in court. Four more activists -- Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Varavara Rao -- were arrested in August 2018.

They were charged with conspiring to incite violence at Bhima Koregaon and involvement in a Maoist conspiracy, among other sections of the UAPA. The case against them is connected to an event held in Pune on December 31, 2017, called Elgar Parishad, where police say the conspiracy to fan violence at Bhima Koregaon was hatched.

Charge sheets against all nine have been filed but the trial is yet to begin. The houses of a number of other activists, such as scholar Anand Teltumbde, have been raided by police over the past year.

First Published: Sep 10, 2019 23:56 IST

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