Bhima Koregaon: DU professor's residence searched

Ten activists were arrested in 2018 as part of the investigation into the violence following a meeting of Elgar Parishad to commemorate 200th anniversary of the battle of Koregaon Bhima. (PTI File Photo)

Pune Police on Tuesday conducted searches at the Noida residence of a Delhi University Associate Professor Hany Babu in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case in which investigators have already arrested ten activists, including Sudha Bharadwaj and Gautam Navlakha among others.

Investigators reached the residence of Babu, who teaches English, in Uttar Pradesh's Noida at around 6:30 AM and searched his residence for around six hours before taking away three books, laptop, phone and hard disks. Pune Police said they video recorded the search, no arrest has been made and the reason for the search was "explained to him in English, and a copy of the seizure panchnama was given with his due acknowledgement".

Ten activists were arrested in 2018 as part of the investigation into the violence following a meeting of Elgar Parishad to commemorate 200th anniversary of the battle of Koregaon Bhima. They were accused of having links with the banned CPI (Maoist) and their arrest had attracted criticism from various quarters.

Responding to the searches, Babu told DH that this is 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 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.

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. The search memo was read out to Babu but it was written in Marathi.

The books taken away by police include 'Varna to Jati: Political Economy of Caste in Indian Social Formation', N Venugopal's Understanding Maoists and documents related to defence committee for G N Saibaba, who was arrested on charges of having Maoist links. Babu is part of the defence committee formed to fight for Saibaba.

“Police said they have evidence. But they did not show anything. They said they will corroborate the material collected from us and if there is any link, they will arrest. As they were taking the material related to the defence committee, we asked them whether they were taking such action because of Hany's involvement with Saibaba's case,” Jenny Rowena, a lecturer in Miranda House College in Delhi and Babu's wife told DH.

She said police conducted the searches "without a warrant". Rowena and their school-going daughter were also in the house when the searches were conducted and they were not allowed to go out.
“They came to the residence saying they have come in connection with a case involving Rona Wilson (who is also arrested along with other activists in the Bhima Koregaon case),” she said.

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