A day after the NIA summoned him for questioning in the Elgar Parishad case, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) professor Partho Sarothi Ray on Saturday denied any links to the event near Pune that allegedly triggered violence on January 1, 2018.
The Kolkata-based social activist, who is the convener of the West Bengal unit of the Persecuted Prisoners Solidarity Committee (PPSC), said, “I have no connection with the Elgaar Parishad or Bhima Koregaon incidents. I have never been there and don’t know any of the organisers. So, I think the summons by the NIA is nothing but harassment. However, I will cooperate with the NIA investigation,” he told The Indian Express.
According to sources, Ray has already started taking legal opinions on the matter.
The Elgaar Parishad case is one of the two ongoing investigations related to the Bhima Koregaon violence that occurred on January 1, 2018.
The case is based on an FIR filed in Pune alleging that banned Maoist groups had organised the Elgaar Parishad programme in the city on the evening of December 31, 2017, to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon. According to the police, speeches made at the event were partly responsible for instigating the violence.
Apart from being an academic, Ray is also a well-known civil rights activist and one of the founder members of Leftist magazine Sanhati.
In 2012, while protesting against the Mamata Banerjee government’s decision to evict slum dwellers in Kolkata’s Nonadanga area, Ray was jailed for 10 days. It was denounced by academics and activists around the world.