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Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 33, New Delhi, August 1, 2020

Central Universities Teachers Platform (FEDCUTA) condemns the arrest of Prof. Hany Babu - Press Release 29 July

Friday 31 July 2020

The Federation of Central Universities Teachers’ Association (FEDCUTA)

Press Release: 29 July 2020

FEDCUTA condemns the arrest of Prof. Hany Babu

The Federation of Central Universities Teachers’ Association (FEDCUTA) condemns the arrest of Prof. Hany Babu M. T., a renowned scholar and activist from the Department of English, University of Delhi by the NIA in Mumbai in connection with the Bhima Koregaon Elgar Parishad case. Prof. Babu has been a brilliant academic and organic intellectual committed to the Ambedkarite cause of anti-caste struggle and social justice. He is revered as a teacher and known for his scholarship in the field of Linguistics. He was instrumental in forcing the DU administration through RTIs and mobilization of opinion to uphold the rights of students belonging to OBC to get admission in accordance with constitutional provisions. He was a member of the Defence Committee for Dr. GN Saibaba ­‑ a teacher of Ram Lal Anand College, DU, a scholar and an activist bringing atrocities on tribals to public notice – who despite 90% physical disability remains incarcerated.

The charges against him appear to be similar to those against other academics arrested in the same case, like Prof Anand Teltumbde and Prof Shoma Sen, and follow the same dubious pattern as in the arrests of octogenarian revolutionary poet Varavara Rao, human rights lawyers and activists like Gautam Navlakha, Sudha Bharadwaj and Surendra Gadling. Some of these activists have been in prison for more than two years but the police has reportedly been unable to produce a shred of evidence against them.

In a raid conducted on Prof. Hany Babu’s house on 10 September, 2019, reportedly without a warrant, the police had seized his laptop and academic books commonly available in the institutional libraries all across India. Prof. Babu had expressed fears of possible manipulation by the authorities and lamented the loss of access to his decades-long research data at that time. The NIA now claims that they have found evidence of storage of incriminating files, a charge completely denied by Dr Babu.

It is evident that this is yet another attempt to muzzle academic freedom, freedom of speech and dissent and incarcerate critics and intellectuals by the ruling government. As a trade union body of academics from across the country, the FEDCUTA believes that this case is illustrative of the institutional subversion of the democratic guarantees enshrined in our Constitution.

The FEDCUTA takes strong exception to the fact that this precipitative action was taken by the NIA while Prof. Babu was fully cooperating with the investigation, travelling all the way to Mumbai, an epicenter of the COVID pandemic, and staying there for questioning by the NIA for almost a week. The risk of COVID infection during his incarceration is a real possibility. We hope that the honourable judiciary upholds the rights of Prof. Babu against the speculative charges brought up against him and set him free immediately.

The arrest of Prof. Babu can be seen as part of the attempt to criminalize dissent, as was seen in the arrests of students who participated in the anti-CAA protests, and portends ominous times ahead for the academic community. It is extremely unfortunate that academic censorship and criminal vitiation of academic spaces stares us in the face and we rise in complete protest and rage. In this hour of strife and challenge, teachers from across the country have expressed their complete solidarity with Prof. Hany Babu and his family.

Rajib Ray, President
DK Lobiyal, Secretary

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