A team of Pune Police allegedly without a warrant raided the house of 45-year-old Hany Babu, an associate professor in Department of English, Delhi University. According to media reports, a police team barged into the professor’s house in Noida and started checking without a warrant. The raid was in concern with the 2017 Elgaar Parishad which is being probed for Maoist links, incitement of violence on Dalits at the Koregaon-Bhima memorial the next day of the meeting and the plot to attack Prime Minister’s rallies.
Professor Hani Babu is a convener of the Committee for Defence and Release of G.N. Saibaba — a suspended professor serving a life term in Nagpur jail for links with the banned CPI (Maoist).
The Elgaar Parishad was held on December 31, 2017, by Ambedkarites commemorating the second centenary of the Battle of Koregaon. The meeting preceded the violence and clash at the Koregaon-Bhima memorial. The Pune Police have allegedly said that the Maoist support and the speeches in the meeting had incited the violence on the next day.
Pune Assistant Commissioner of Police, Shivaji Pawar, who led the raid, confirmed the seizure of Babu’s house in Noida Sector 78 in lieu of the Elgaar Parishad case investigation under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and other penal codes.
Professor Hany Babu told the Telegraph that there were 15-20 police officers that raided his house at 6:30 in the morning. They seized many of his belongings during the six-hours search- the items included his mobile phone, two laptops, four external hard drives with years of academic research, several pen drives, two booklets of the Saibaba defence committee, social scientist N. Venugopal’s book Understanding Maoists, and Y. Naveen Babu’s MPhil dissertation, From Varna to Jati-Political Economy of Caste in Indian Social Formation.
He added, “An officer said they did not require a search warrant. My wife (a teacher at Miranda House college) and daughter (a student of Class X) were not allowed to leave and none of us was allowed to use any electronic device. We requested them to let our daughter go, as she had an important orchestra practice, but she was not allowed to go to school,”
Babu has also denied his connections with Elgaar Parishad and said that he hasn’t been in touch with the members of Defence Committee since the past one-and-a-half years.He also claimed that the police had control of all his emails and social media accounts.
Delhi University Teachers Association president Rajib Ray condemned the seizure and said, “Such raids without search warrants are against the very essence of democracy, individual freedom, and open the door for planting evidence. Arbitrary use of instruments of the state to harass and intimidate dissent is inexcusable.”
As a result of the wide condemnation and rage against the unwarranted seizure and attempts to silence a dissenting voice, the students of MA English held a flash protest against the injustice meted out to their professor Hany Babu. The protest saw active participation from students and teachers with strong slogans against the raid, breach in freedom and civil rights and in support of Hany Babu. One of the slogans read, “In solidarity with tortured democracy and Hany Babu as well.”