The Pune police Tuesday conducted searches at the Noida residence of Delhi University professor Hany Babu M T (45) in connection with their ongoing probe into the Elgaar Parishad case.
A team from the Pune city police was at Babu’s house around 6.30 am and conducted searches until the afternoon. “Some electronic devices were seized during the search. Only search and seizure was conducted and he (Babu) was not arrested. Video recording of the entire proceeding was done, reasons for the search were explained to him in English, copy of seizure panchnama was given with his due acknowledgement,” said Bachchan Singh, DCP, Pune Crime Branch.
“SSP of Gautam Buddh Nagar from UP Police was kept in the loop and Sector 49 police station officers and staff provided logistical support,” he said.
According to the Pune police, the probe has allegedly revealed that Babu was in contact with Rona Wilson, who is an accused in the Elgaar Parishad case, and with G N Saibaba, another DU professor, who has been convicted by a court in Gadchiroli in 2017 for links to Maoist outfits.
“Hany has not been named as accused in the case, yet. However we are investigating if has any role in the overall conspiracy we are probing,” said a senior police officer.
A professor of English in Delhi University, Hany has been associated with the Committee for Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP), of which Wilson was also an office bearer.
Pune police have claimed that the Elgaar Parishad, a conference held on December 31 in 2017 at Shaniwar Wada in Pune was supported and funded by banned Maoist outfits. Police have also said that speeches delivered at the conference aggravated the violence at Bhima Koregaon on January 1, 2018.
Babu told The Indian Express that the police were looking specifically for literature. “It was clear to us that they were after literature and electronics. They checked each and every book on the bookshelf, whereas in cupboards etc they gave a cursory glance. The intention is to intimidate those who dissent or struggle for rights,” he said.
Babu’s wife Jenny Rowena said the couple was awoken around 6:30 am by police. “They did not produce a search warrant. They just told us that they had come in connection with the Rona Wilson case. After six hours they said, you (Babu) are a suspect in the Bhima Koregaon case, and if anything from the material seized corroborates with the evidence, you will be arrested,” she said.
Asked about the search warrant, Pune Police Commissioner K Venkatesham said, “All the required legal procedures were followed by the team.”
Rowena said besides electronics like his phone, laptop, hard disk and pen drives, police also took two books – From Varna to Jati: Political Economy of Caste in Indian Social Formation by Yalavarthi Naveen Babu, and Understanding Maoists: Notes of a Participant Observer in Andhra Pradesh by N Venugopal.
The Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) came out in his support. “Not only has he been an outstanding teacher, but has been an active participant in struggles for academic freedom, democratic right, lawful and democratic functioning of the university, equal access to university education and social justice,” said DUTA President Rajib Ray.
The Pune Police has so far booked 23 people in connection with the case and arrested nine prominent activists and lawyers. Police have alleged that the arrested suspects have links to Maoist organisations. Those arrested are Sudhir Dhawale, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut, Surendra Gadling, Rona Wilson and P Varavara Rao, Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferriera and Vernon Gonsalves — all are currently lodged at the Yerawada Central Jail in Pune.