Delhi University professor Hany Babu, arrested in connection with the Bhima Koregaon Elgar Parishad Case, has been remanded in NIA custody till 4 August, reported PTI.
The lawyer, appearing for Babu, pointed out that the professor was already being interrogated by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for the past four to five days. Therefore, the lawyer argued, his further custody wasn’t required, reported PTI.
The special court judge AT Wankhade, however, observed that the allegations against the professor were serious and, on Wednesday, 29 July, reportedly remanded Babu to seven days of NIA custody.
The NIA had arrested Babu on Tuesday, in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence probe. He was being interrogated at the NIA’s Mumbai office since 23 July.
Babu, who is an assistant English Professor in Delhi University, has been accused of being a co-conspirator in “propagating Naxal activities and Maoist ideology.”
In September 2019, Pune Police had come all the way down to his Noida house and conducted a raid in which they had seized his mobile phone and computer.
'Hidden' Folder – A Common Pattern of Arrests
Jenny Rowena, Babu’s wife, and a professor at Delhi University, received a call from the NIA on Tuesday saying Babu has been arrested and a “hidden folder with incriminating material” was found in his computer that was seized last year.
Speaking to The Quint, Rowena said:
“Babu went to Mumbai thinking he was going to be questioned as a witness and not an accused. During the interrogation for the last couple of days, Babu used to tell me about how NIA quizzed him on a particular folder they found on his computer. He told me he does not identify the folder or any of its content. How is it possible that incriminating evidence against him is found in his folder itself?”
Rowena said, “A similar pattern has been seen in the arrests of other activists in the case too. It is like an undeclared emergency. And the courts can see that the investigation is flawed yet they are not taking any action.”
After the Maharashtra Police summoned him in July, Babu had told Scroll that this was a part of the continuous effort to intimidate activists, even though they had no connection to the case.
Babu, a known anti-caste activist, is the 12th person to be arrested in the case. Civil rights activists and academicians such as Sudha Bharadwaj, Shoma Sen, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Arun Ferreira, Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Vernon Gonsalves, Varavara Rao, Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha were arrested earlier in the same case and all are in jail now.
Rowena said, “They are accusing us of co-conspiring with the Maoists but we have no connection with any of them. They are coming after Babu because he is a vocal critic of the caste system.”
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the NIA has issued summons to Babu twice in July. He had expressed reluctance in traveling to Mumbai, considering the health of his family and the increase in cases and so had requested to appear via video-conferencing. But the NIA insisted that he appear in person for the questioning and so he reached Mumbai and was being questioned since 23 July, reported The Wire.
Babu will be produced before NIA Special Court in Mumbai on 29 July and his police custody will be sought for custodial interrogation, NIA sources said.
Social Media Demands Babu’s Release
His arrest comes when the other activists have petitioned the Bombay High Court to allow them interim bail on health grounds amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Eighty-year-old revolutionary poet Varavara Rao was shifted to a private hospital after he tested positive at Taloja jail. Several took to social media to express dissent at the recent line of arrests and investigation, calling India a “fascist state.”