A Kolkata-based professor, summoned by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in the Bhima-Koregaon case in Maharashtra, on Wednesday accused the central agency of trying to harass him.
He said he has sought to be questioned via video conference because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NIA has issued a notice to IISER professor Partho Sarathi Ray, who is also the convenor of Persecuted Prisoners Solidarity Committee’s (PPSC) West Bengal unit, asking him to appear for questioning at its Mumbai office on September 10 in connection with the 2018 incident.
“I have written to the NIA asking if I could attend the questioning by video conferencing. My duties in this pandemic situation are preventing me from travelling. Waiting for their response,” said the young scientist, involved in COVID-19 research activities, and added that he had never visited Bhima Koregaon.
The professor at Indian Institute of Science Education and Research’s (IISER) Kolkata unit said he has nothing to do with the incident and “the probe agency is trying to harass me”.
The scientist and social activist also said that there was no charge against him, and he had never visited the Bhima Koregaon memorial in Pune.
“The agency (NIA) has summoned me as a witness in the case under section 160 CrPC (a police officer’s power to require attendance of witnesses). Therefore, there are no charges against me. I have no connection with this case as I have never been to Bhima Koregaon. I wasn’t even aware of the incident till I read about it in the newspapers,” he had said on Sunday.
The case pertains to an incident of caste violence that took place near the Bhima Koregaon war memorial on January 1, 2018, following alleged provocative speeches at Elgar Parishad conclave a day earlier.
Several vehicles were torched and one person was killed in the incident, triggering large scale Dalit agitation in Maharashtra.