Pune Police on Tuesday searched the home of Delhi University professor Hany Babu in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, in connection with the Elgar Parishad case, PTI reported. Assistant Commissioner of Police Shivaji Pawar, however, said no arrest had been made.
Babu said his home was searched for six hours from 6.30 am by 20 people who claimed to be from the crime branch. In his statement, the professor said they did not have a search warrant. “When I asked for a search warrant, I was told there was none and that this case doesn’t need one,” he added. Five of the policement were reportedly in uniform while the rest were wearing civilian clothes.
“We have conducted a search operation at Babu’s residence in Noida in connection with the Elgaar Parishad case registered at the Vishrambaug police station in Pune,” Pawar said. Deputy Commissioner of Police Bachchan Singh said they had seized electronic devices.
The professor said the police had complete access to his accounts “through the changed passwords and I no longer have access to these accounts”.
“I would like to state that as a teacher, my work is heavily dependent on what I have saved in my laptops and my external hard disks,” Babu added. “It also contains the research work that l’ve been pursuing for years. This work is not something which can be duplicated in days.”
Babu was allegedly in contact with GN Saibaba, another Delhi University professor convicted in March 2017 by a court in Gadchiroli, for Maoist links. The professor was also “in contact with all earlier arrested accused [in the Bhima Koregaon case]”, Pune Police Commissioner K Venkatesham told The Times of India.
The 45-year-old professor, who teaches English at the Delhi University, is an activist and the coordinator of the Alliance of Social Justice. He is also a member of the Joint Action Front for Democratic Education, according to The Hindu. He was also a member of the Committee for the Defense and Release of Dr GN Saibaba, which had criticised the rejection of bail to the jailed professor.
“We have got evidence which prima facie indicates his role in the case,” Deputy Commissioner of Police Suhas Bawche was quoted as saying.
The search was conducted on the basis of an offence registered at Vishrambaug police station, Pune, with regard to Elgar Parishad under several sections of the Indian Penal Code and sections of the Unlawful Activities Preventive Act, 1967, the Hindustan Times reported, citing a statement from Singh. The police recorded a video of the search operation and provided a panchnama to the professor.
“Today the Pune police entered our house at 6.30 in the morning,” Babu’s wife Jenny Rowena said on Facebook. “They said that Hany Babu [my husband] who teaches at Delhi University English Department, is involved in the Bhima Koregaon case and for this they could search the house without a search warrant.” The professor’s home was searched for six hours and the police seized three books, Babu’s laptop, phone, hard disks and pen drives, Rowena said.
On December 31, 2017, the Elgar conclave was held at Shaniwar Wada in Pune before the 200th anniversary of the Koregaon Bhima battle. Police said that speeches made at the event had resulted in caste-related violence around Koregaon Bhima village on New Years Day last year. One person was killed and many others were injured in the incident.
Ten activists were arrested in 2018 as part of the inquiry into the caste violence at Bhima Koregaon. They were accused of masterminding the violence and of having links with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist).
Last week, two of the accused in the case, Surendra Gadling and Sudhir Dhawale, refused to depose before a commission that is investigation the matter. Gadling claimed that it would cause prejudice in his defence before the trial court where he was facing serious charges. Dhawale said that he did not have “faith and confidence” in the panel that was investigating the violence.
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