A day after a 10-member National Investigative Agency (NIA) team conducted raids at Delhi University professor Hany Babu’s residence, his wife Dr Jenny Rowena said that they will fight the legal battle without giving in to fear.
The NIA had arrested 54-year-old Hany Babu Musaliyarveettil Tharayil for allegedly propagating “Naxal activities and Maoist ideology” and being a "co-conspirator" in the Elgar Parishad case.
Babu is the latest person and the 12th person to be arrested in the case. Earlier, the police had arrested rights activist Sudha Bharadwaj, poet Varavara Rao (who is fighting COVID-19), Vernon Gonsalves, Anand Teltumbde, Gautam Navlakha and other intellectuals on charges of provocation which led to clashes among caste groups leading to loss of life and property in Koregaon Bhima.
Speaking to The New Indian Express, Rowena, an associate professor at the Miranda House college said,” The government is giving out a message to others that if you speak up like Babu, you’ll also face the same consequences. We are not even Leftist but we are being branded as Maoists. They are talking about things that we have no idea about. This is not a time to fear, this is the time to resist”.
This is the second time that their home has been raided after 2018. “The NIA seized cash receipts of the defence committee. The NIA took hard drives without giving me hash value so I don’t know what they will say. I kept telling them that you can’t take devices but they have taken away anyway,” she added.
A hash value is a numeric value that identifies data, which acts as an electronic seal on digital devices. It is used in courts to prove that data on digital devices has not been tampered with.
Questioning the government's malicious intent to throttle dissent she said, "The impunity with which they can do this to a person who has not even stepped out for a protest outside the university. How can they call Babu a Maoist when he has always adhered to Constitutional values? Why would Babu keep documents in a computer that can incriminate him and wait for the police to arrive”.
She added that "why would Babu sit with documents that could implicate him" after they found his name in an alleged letter on prison-rights activist Rona Wilson’s hard disk. The police claimed that the letter mentioned a Naxal plot to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi and overthrow the government
Babu is a member of “The Committee for the Defence and Release of GN Saibaba”, a former DU professor who was charged with life for allegedly having Maoist ties.
Despite the ongoing pandemic posing a threat to jail inmates, the Government of India has been arresting students and intellectuals for their alleged involvement in riots, which has drawn heavy criticism from the civil society.
"Students can’t speak, teachers can’t speak, this is fascism. If not for the pandemic, imagine the protests that would have erupted in DU. Last time, there were so many people who raised their voices in the aftermath of just a raise, this time it would have been huge," she said.
"From my college friends to Babu’s friends everyone has shown their support and that is our biggest strength. My department too has been very supportive,” she added.
"My family is ready, Babu is ready to face them".