Delhi University Professor Hany Babu's wife Jenny Rowena Wednesday said they will not be broken by his arrest and will fight the case in court, a day after he was taken in custody by the NIA in the Bhima Koregaon-Elgar Parishad case. Rowena, who teaches at Delhi University's Miranda House, learnt about her husband's arrest around 5.30 pm on Tuesday.
The NIA has accused Hany Babu Musaliyarveettil Tharayil (54), an associate professor in the Department of English, of propagating Naxal activities and Maoist ideology and being a "co-conspirator" in the Elgar Parishad case. Babu is also a member of The Committee for the Defence and Release of GN Saibaba, a former DU professor serving life sentence over charges of having Maoist links.
"They were asking him (Babu) about his role in the defence committee," Rowena told PTI over phone. "They also found in his computer a file which they said is highly incriminating… He was sitting with such a file on his computer for them? They are cooking up this fabricated story. They are using that file only to link him to Maoists," she alleged.
The case relates to an Elgar Parishad event of December 31, 2017, organised by the Kabir Kala Manch at Shaniwarwada in Pune, where alleged provocative speeches were made, promoting enmity between various caste groups and leading to violence resulting in loss of life and property and statewide agitation in Maharashtra, an NIA official had said Tuesday. The Pune Police had in September last year conducted a raid on Babu's house and seized his laptop and some books.
When asked about the file, Rowena said Babu told her that the police did not show it to him but claimed it had some letters exchanged among Maoists and his name was mentioned in them. "We are getting overwhelming support. I am not the kind of a person who will be broken by it and even Babu is not the kind of a person. We will stay strong and positive and will come out of it," she said, adding they will "fight out the case in the court".
Writer Arundhati Roy, the Federation of Central Universities Teachers' Association, the Jamia Teachers' Solidarity Association and Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union (JNUSU) also came out in support of Babu and slammed his arrest. In a statement, Roy alleged it is a manifestation of an understanding that the "anti-capitalist" politics that these activists represent poses the clearest threat to this government's policies.
The Federation of Central Universities Teachers' Association (FEDCUTA) said the charges against Babu appear to be similar to those against other academics arrested in the case, like Prof Anand Teltumbde and Prof Shoma Sen. "It is evident that this is yet another attempt to muzzle academic freedom," it alleged in a statement.
The risk of catching COVID-19 infection during his incarceration is a real possibility, the statement said, expressing hope the judiciary would set Babu free. The Jamia Teachers' Solidarity Association called Babu's arrest "a blatant silencing of dissent".
The JNUSU appealed to students, academics and all progressive sections of the citizenry to stand together in solidarity with Babu.