Voices of dissent being suppressed, says DU prof raided for Maoist links

G.N. Saibaba (centre), DUTA president Nandita Narain (left), author and social activist Arundhati Roy (extreme right) along with teachers of Delhi University during a press conference in New Delhi on Saturday. Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar.   | Photo Credit: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

Delhi University professor G.N. Saibaba, whose house was raided by a joint team of the Delhi and the Maharashtra police two days ago, on Saturday took a dig at the investigation launched into the use of his residence “as a place for the deposit of stolen property”. He also questioned the manner in which the raid was carried out.

Talking to the media at his residence, Prof. Saibaba said he suspected that the raiding team had members from the National Investigation Agency too.

He said by targeting activists and public intellectuals, the State was trying to suppress voices of dissent that questioned its “so-called development policies”.

According to the Maharashtra police, one of the several evidences purportedly linking Prof. Saibaba to several top Maoist leaders was the record of Internet “chat sessions” between them. Reacting to this, Prof. Saibaba said the very suggestion of Maoists using Internet for communication was laughable as they could be traced easily.

At the conference, which was also addressed by representatives from the Delhi University Teachers’ Association and other public intellectuals, copies of the search warrant issued by a Maharashtra court were circulated among journalists. The warrant was issued for the recovery of stolen items. The speakers described the charge of harbouring “stolen property” as outrageous and feared that the raiding team had planted certain objects, which would later be used to frame charges against Dr. Saibaba.

Drawing a parallel between the case of Parliament attack case convict Afzal Guru and Prof. Saibaba, noted author Arundhati Roy said in that case, too, it all started with a raid and recoveries made were later used to incriminate Guru.

On Thursday, the Delhi and the Maharashtra police, in a joint operation, had searched Prof. Saibaba’s official residence and allegedly seized many items including laptops, hard disks, pen drives, and mobile phones from there. Dr. Saibaba said the digital devices had his research material and other documents pertaining to the timetable and roster of Ram Lal Anand College where he teaches. He said they had no Maoist literature as was being claimed.

He and other activists further alleged that the raiding team had flouted rules.

They entered the professor’s house before its members were screened to ascertain if they were carrying anything, which would later go in the seizure record.

“Teachers from the university were not let in and instead two terrified local barbers were picked up by the police and brought in as “neutral observers” for some duration of the raid. They were also coerced into signing on the seizure sheet as witnesses,” said Prof. Saibaba.

Reacting to allegations that the Revolutionary Democratic Front, of which Prof. Saibaba is a functionary, was a front outfit of the CPI (Maoist), the speakers said that all groups, which opposed policies leading to displacement of poor people for setting up corporate projects, were targeted by the investigating agencies and there was a conspiracy to silence all dissenting voices by hounding them.

“With the police now targeting someone like Prof. Saibaba, who has always voiced the cause of the poor and criticised violence of any kind, it seems as if ‘Operation Greenhunt’ is now knocking at the doors of the Capital,” said Professor Manoranjan Mohanty, a former faculty member of Delhi University.

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Printable version | Mar 4, 2021 9:38:55 PM |

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