Bhima Koregaon case: NIA arrests DU prof Hany Babu in Mumbai; tells wife 'hidden folder' establishes him as Maoist

According to reports, the NIA has said that Babu was propagating Maoist ideology and Naxal activities and that he was a co-conspirator with other arrested accused in the case

FP Staff July 28, 2020 20:40:15 IST
Bhima Koregaon case: NIA arrests DU prof Hany Babu in Mumbai; tells wife 'hidden folder' establishes him as Maoist

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Tuesday arrested Hany Babu Musaliyarveettil Tharayil, an Associate Professor of Delhi University, in connection with the Elgar Parishad case in Mumbai, several reports have said. He will be produced before a special court in Mumbai on Wednesday, news agency ANI reported.

According to The Times of India, the NIA in a release said that Babu was propagating "Maoist ideology and Naxal activities", adding that he was a co-conspirator with others arrested in the case.

Babu is the 12th person to have been arrested in connection to the case, which pertains to speeches made at the Elgar Parishad conclave in Pune on 31 December 2017, which had allegedly triggered violence at the Bhima Koregaon war memorial the next day.

Eleven other accused — Sudha Bharadwaj, Shoma Sen, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Arun Ferreira, Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Vernon Gonsalves, Varavara Rao, Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha were arrested earlier in the same case and all are in jail now. The NIA took over the case from the Maharashtra Police in January 2020.

Jenny Rowena, Hany Babu's wife and a lecturer at Delhi University, told Maktoob Media that she received a call from the NIA, informing her of Hany Babu's arrest. The agency told her that a "hidden folder" on his laptop established him as a Maoist.

The Maktoob Media report also quoted unnamed NIA sources stating that the "hidden folder" contained letters that he had exchanged with Maoists. According to the report, the laptop had been seized by the agency in September 2019 in a raid on the associate professor's house in Noida.

The NIA had issued summons to Babu twice this month, amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. According to The WireBabu was summoned to the agency's Mumbai office as a witness on 12 July. The summons, which were served to him  by a local NIA officer in Delhi, said:“It appears that you are acquainted with the circumstances of the case… You are hereby required to attend before the NIA.”

Babu had expressed reluctance in traveling to Mumbai, saying that he was concerned for his own health as well as that of his family.“They are asking me to travel to Mumbai in the middle of a pandemic,” Babu told Scroll.in. “It is not just a health hazard to me but also to my family. I live in Noida and there are so many restrictions to even travel to Delhi.”

According to a Pune Mirror report, Babu had requested the agency to allow him to appear via video-conferencing, but the agency had told him to appear in person for the questioning on 24 July.

According to reports, Babu had reached Mumbai and was being questioned since 23 July.

The Pune Police had in September 2019 carried out a raid at Babu's Noida residence had seized his laptop and pendrive. "Police, who came to my house without a warrant, told me that they came related to a case in Pune without a warrant. They were interested in books. They seized my laptop and pen drive. They also changed my email password and I am unable to access it now. I will get my material from the court within two to three months. They said my name has come up in the investigation," Babu had told news agency ANI, adding that he would consult a lawyer for further action.

Babu, 54, a resident of Gautam Buddha Nagar in Uttar Pradesh, is an Associate Professor in the Department of English.

According to the Scroll report, Babu, who a vocal anti-caste activist, had alleged that the summons issued to him were part of an attempt to intimidate activists who had no links to Elgar Parishad event. He is also an active member of the committee formed for the defence of GN Saibaba, a Delhi University professor who was convicted for his alleged links with the Maoist movement.

The NIA has also opposed bail pleas of the other accused, including Rao, Navlakha and Bharadwaj.

With inputs from agencies.

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