Bhima Koregaon Case: Pune Police Raid DU Prof. Hany Babu's Home
In the face of a systematic, orchestrated attack against dissent, in an era when intimidation tactics are being used against activists, we need to reevaluate where we stand, and whether democracy remains an avenue for freedom, or a tool for state sponsored repression.
The attack on academia continues, as in a shocking show of zero transparency and no accountability, the Pune Police today raided the home of DU Professor, Hanu Babu, in connection with its probe into the 2017 Elgaar Parishad case. Although no arrest was made, a number of the Professor’s electronic devices were seized by the team. The police team, comprising more than 12 personnel, reached Babu’s Noida house at around 6 am.
The search and seizure operation was conducted based on suspicions of alleged Maoist links, according to officials.
Babu is a professor of English at Delhi University, and has been booked under Indian Penal Code sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 121 and 121A (waging or attempting to wage war against government), and 124A (sedition), among others.
Apart from being a well-respected academic, Babu has also been vocal in the anti-caste crusade; making his voice heard in a number of activist movements through the years.
The Noida Police confirmed that a search and seizure operation was conducted at his residence. “Video recording of whole proceedings was done, reasons for search were explained to him in English, a copy of seizure panchnama was given with his due acknowledgement," Noida Senior Superintendent of Police Vaibhav Krishna said.
The Pune Police team comprised of a senior crime branch officer and cyber experts besides Pawar, the investigating officer in the case, while the Noida Police provided logistical support, he added.
That being said, the details of the seizure have not been made available, nor has a warrant been made public.
The Bhima Koregaon case concerns statements and speeches made at the Elgaar conclave nearly two years ago. The Elgaar conclave was held at historic Shaniwar Wada in Pune on December 31, 2017, ahead of the 200th anniversary of the battle of Koregaon Bhima. According to police, speeches made at the conclave aggravated the caste violence around the Koregaon Bhima village in the district on January 1, 2018, in which one person was killed and several others were injured. Police have so far arrested nine people in the case.
Reactions of Outrage:
The news of the raid was first made public when Hany Babu's wife, Jenny, posted about it on social media:
Today Pune police entered our house at 6.30 in the morning. They said that @hanybabu (my husband) is involved in the Bhima Koregaon case and that for this, they could search the house without a search warrant. They searched for 6 hours, took 3 books, lap top, phone, hard disks
— jenny rowena (@jennyrowena) September 10, 2019
The academic community has rallied around her in support.
The Delhi University Teacher’s Association released this statement upon hearing about the search:
This is not the first instance in what is clearly a systematic attack against those who are perceived to be critical of the ruling regime, as clearly detailed in this Twitter thread:
This is the latest in the series of attacks on dissenting voices against the ruling regime who have been systematically targeted as part of a witch-hunt, accused of instigating the violence at Bhima Koregaon in January 2018. https://t.co/4COLsEvlr1
— Pinjra Tod (@PinjraTod) September 10, 2019
People have started pointing out patterns in this persecution:
This also happened to Anand Teltumbde, a Dalit professor who has warned about the rise of fascism in India. Teltumbde & other prominent social justice academics & activists throughout India have been harassed since August 2018 on allegations of conspiracy in Bhima Koregaon case.
— Pieter Friedrich (@FriedrichPieter) September 10, 2019
“They knocked at my door at around 6 am. They said they wanted to enquire about the Bhima Koregaon case which they are investigating. My laptop, mobile phones, two booklets printed for the G.N. Saibaba defence committee, and two books were confiscated,” https://t.co/TNXPm3ul2V
— DK (@anticastecat) September 10, 2019
We are clearly in a trying age of unfettered force being used by the State. In the face of a systematic, orchestrated attack against dissent, in times when intimidation tactics are being used against activitsts, we need to reevaluate where we stand, and whether democracy remains an avenue for freedom, or a tool for state sponsored repression.