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Bhima Koregaon: DU prof arrested for alleged Maoist links

PTI, New Delhi: The National Investigation Agency on Tuesday arrested a Delhi University professor in connection with the probe into the 2018 violence in Maharashtra's Koregaon Bhima.

54-year-old Hany Babu Tharayil, who is an associate professor of English at the DU and lives in Noida, has been arrested for alleged Maoist links. This is the 12th arrest in the case that has seen several prominent activists, scholars and lawyers jailed for over two years while they await trial.

The case relates to an event of December 31, 2017 in Pune which was followed by violence and arson in Maharashtra that left one person dead.

A section of the Delhi University fraternity and some student outfits condemned the arrest of professor Hany Babu, saying it was "a blatant attempt to silence dissent".

The news of his arrest was "shocking", said Abha Dev Habib, a professor at Miranda House college where Hany Babu's wife Jenny Rowena also teaches.

"He has risen as the voice of marginalised students and is a pro-democracy activist. If you put anyone in jail now (amid the COVID-19 pandemic), it is like giving death sentence.... We will continue to protest for his release," she said.

From anti-CAA activists to pro-democracy activists, intellectuals and academics, the BJP government is sparing none in its attempt to weaken democracy, the AISA said and demanded Hany Babu's immediate release.

The Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), an umbrella body of student outfits and civil society organisations, called his arrest "blatant harassment and intimidation of persons who question the State and struggle for the rights of the marginalised and oppressed castes, classes and communities".

Hany Babu has been an anti-caste activist who has been consistently fighting for social justice within and outside the university space, it said.

CASR demanded immediate release of all activists and intellectuals arrested in the Bhima Koregaon case.

The case relates to an Elgar Parishad event of December 31, 2017, organised by the Kabir Kala Manch at Shaniwarwada in Pune, where alleged provocative speeches were made, promoting enmity between various caste groups and leading to violence resulting in loss of life and property and statewide agitation in Maharashtra, an NIA official said.

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