A group of scholars and academics on Sunday urged the National Investigation Agency to allow Arupjyoti Saikia, a faculty member of the Indian Institute of Technology in Guwahati, to continue his work unimpeded. A day earlier, Saikia was questioned by the investigative agency for four hours at their office in Sonapur on the outskirts of Guwahati.

Though the agency did not mention why Arupjyoti Saikia, a professor of history in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, was summoned, reports said the case is related to protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act.

Among those who signed the statement are noted historian Ramachandra Guha, professors Partha Chatterjee, Pratap Bhanu Mehta, Nandini Sundar, Nivedita Menon, AR Venkatachalapathy, and Srinath Raghavan. “Professor Saikia is an adornment to the literary and intellectual world of Assam and of India,” the signatories said. “He is also an individual of high moral character; gentle, soft-spoken, and utterly non-violent. His devotion to his students at IIT Guwahati is exemplary.”

They said it was “deeply distressing” that a scholar of standing was called for “intensive grilling” by the investigative agency. “We urge that the NIA treat him with the dignity and respect he deserves, and allow him to continue his professional work unimpeded.”

The signatories pointed out that Saikia has a very high reputation nationally and internationally. “For his contributions to scholarship, Professor Saikia is hugely admired, indeed venerated, in his native Assam,” the statement added. “His scholarship recognized by a prestigious fellowship from Yale University.”

In December, state Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had claimed that the government had electronic evidence that a leading academician had played a major role in the protests against citizenship law. At least six people were killed in violence during the demonstrations. The protests in Assam started in the first week of December, much before demonstrations in the rest of India.