At 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday, 10th September, the Pune police searched the residence of Hany Babu, a professor in the English Department of the University of Delhi (DU), in relation to the Elgar case.
On Tuesday, 10th September 2019, Pune police conducted a series of searches in the residence of Hany Babu, a professor in the English Department of the University of Delhi (DU), in Noida, Uttar Pradesh. The searches were conducted in connection to the Elgar Parishad case of 2017. He was investigated due to alleged Maoist links. Though no arrest was made, this development was confirmed by Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Shivaji Pawar. “We have conducted a search operation at Babu’s residence in Noida in connection with the Elgar Parishad case registered at the Vishrambaug police station in Pune,” Pawar told India Today, adding that police have recovered some electronic devices.
The Elgar conclave was held on 31st December 2017, to commemorate the battle of Koregaon-Bhima, and the speeches made during this conclave aggravated the caste violence around the Koregaon Bhima village in the district on 1st January 2018. This led to the death of one person, and several others were injured. Police have arrested nine persons related to the case so far.
Professor Hany Babu’s Public Statement on the police intimidation and raid at his house read:
“I am Hany Babu, residing with my family in Noida. I have been teaching at the English Department in the University of Delhi as an Associate Professor for close to a decade.
At 6:30 AM in the morning, 20 people knocked at my door, claiming that they belonged to the Pune Crime Branch. Five of them were in uniform, the rest were in civil clothes. I was told that they wanted to conduct a search of my residence. When asked for a search warrant, I was told that there was none and that this case doesn’t need one. Following this, I requested for some form of identification to be shown to me. An officer with the name Dr. Shivaji Pawar showed me his ID. After this, the officers entered my residence and looked through every room of my apartment. The search went on for six hours, at the end of which they said they would be seizing my laptop, my hard disks, my pen drives and books. They made me change the passwords of my social media accounts and my email account. They have complete access to my accounts now through the changed passwords and I no longer have access to these accounts. I would like to state that as a teacher, my work is heavily dependent on what I’ve saved in my laptops and external hard disks. It also contains the research work that I’ve been pursuing for years. This work is not something which can be duplicated in days. These are years of my hard work. I don’t understand how a government agency can seize my work without providing me the reasons for it, or the basis on which a search was conducted at my residence. They did not have a search warrant with them and they did not explain further as to why they don’t possess the same. While the search was ongoing, they also seized the phones of my wife and my daughter, barring us from communicating with our friends.”
In a press release by Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA), Rajib Ray, the President of DUTA condemned the act, claiming that such raids without search warrants are against the very essence of democracy, individual freedom, and open the door for planting evidence.” He also states that such intolerance towards criticism and dissent was the basis for the insidious attempt that was made last year to amend the Delhi University Act and apply ESMA, and that “this attack on academic freedom and freedom of expression will be opposed tooth and nail by the teachers of Delhi University and other academic institutions in the country.”
The search operation has been met with a massive uproar. A protest was organised on 11th September near the Faculty of Arts, North Campus, to raise questions on the essential nature of dissent in a politically active space like DU, and its lack thereof in the face of desperate attempts to annihilate contrasting voices. This is the latest case in a series of witch-hunts aimed at making the college spaces more “positive”.
Feature Image Credits: Hindustan Times