New Delhi: The JNUTA on Wednesday condemned the raid conducted at the residence of Delhi University professor Hany Babu in Noida in connection with the 2017 Elgaar Parishad case for alleged Maoist links and called it an attempt "intended to intimidate and harass him".
Pune Police on Tuesday searched 45-year-old Babu's house in Sector 78 of Noida, adjoining the national capital. Pune Assistant Commissioner of Police Shivaji Pawar said no arrest was made during the search operation.
The search conducted at his residence is another "shocking episode in the ongoing authoritarian attempts by the current regime to intimidate and silence activists, writers, professors, journalists, and human rights defenders across the country", the JNUTA said.
"This raid on him also foregrounds the heights that police paranoia about critique and dissent has scaled so much so that reading and writing are now seen to be suspicious activities," they said.
The JNUTA claimed that police spent an inordinate amount of time going through Babu's book collection, ultimately settling on confiscating two books that are freely available in the public domain, and not on any list of banned publications.
The Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers' Association (JNUTA) sees this one act as embodying a message being sent out to all academics -- "If you read (or write) about what a ruling dispensation determines to be impermissible, expect the state to come calling."
"This message is a warning to all academics to fall in line through self-censorship on what they read and write and to give up on the academic ideals of rational evaluation as the basis of critique or endorsement, " the teachers' body said.
Babu had alleged that police did not have a search warrant and they seized the phones of his daughter and wife, barring them from communicating with friends.
In his statement, he had said Pune Police seized his laptops, external hard drives, pen drives, and mobile phone, which contain most of his past and ongoing academic work.
He said they had also blocked his access to his email and social media accounts.
"For any academic, the confiscation of his academic archive is naturally the source of the greatest anxiety, but added to this is the very real possibility of mischievous tampering by a police force, which seemed to be out on a fishing expedition," the teachers' body said.
The JNUTA said the search of his house without a warrant, when his name figured nowhere on the FIR made out in the Bhima Koregaon case, "was blatantly illegal, and intended to intimidate and harass him".
"He is a highly respected academic scholar, and has been a strong voice for academic freedom, inclusive and accessible public education, and democratic and civil liberties," they said.
His wife Jenny Rowena teaches English at Miranda House. "Both of them have been active participants in the struggles of the teaching community against institutionalised caste discrimination, and in the defence of the human rights of the disabled colleague and activist Prof G N Saibaba," they said.