Elgar Parishad Case Accused Dr Hany Babu To Get Honorary DoctorateMar 24, 2023 | Pratirodh Bureau
Former Delhi University associate professor Dr Hany Babu, an accused in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case and currently lodged in a jail in Navi Mumbai, is set to get an honorary doctorate degree from a university in Belgium, his wife has said.
In a release issued on Thursday, Hany Babu’s wife Jenny Rowena said he will be awarded the honorary doctorate from the faculty of Arts and Philosophy of Ghent University, Belgium on Friday.
Hany Babu was arrested in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case in July 2020. He was the 12th person to be arrested in the case. The case relates to the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on December 31, 2017. Pune police had alleged that provocative speeches there led to caste violence at Bhima-Koregaon war memorial located near Pune city the next day, and the Parishad itself was backed by Maoists.
“The faculty of Arts and Philosophy of Ghent University, which nominated Dr Hany Babu’s name to the executive committee, justified its nomination by pointing at his efforts to safeguard the importance of academic freedom and his commitment to language rights and equal access to education for minorities,” his wife stated in the release. The diploma and the epitoga will be given during a ceremony on the university’s ‘Dies Natalis’ or Anniversary Day on March 24, she said.
Dr Hany Babu’s promoter Dr Anne Breitbarth, Associate Professor of Historical Linguistics at the German section of the Linguistics Department at Ghent University will receive the badges of honour in place of Hany Babu and the same will be handed over to him as soon as circumstances permit, she said quoting a university representative.
Apart from Dr Hany Babu, six other researchers and scholars from the US, the UK, Canada, Austria and Netherlands are also being awarded honorary degrees on the same day by Ghent University.
The Elgar Parishad case has been embroiled in controversy since the beginning and continues to evoke strong reactions from supporters of the accused against their detention.
In July 2022, 11 activists accused in the case observed a day-long fast at the Taloja prison in Navi Mumbai in protest against the death of co-accused Jesuit priest Stan Swamy on July 5, 2022.
Dr Hany Babu was among the activists who observed the fast, the others being Surendra Gadling, Arun Ferreira, Mahesh Raut, Rona Wilson, Vernon Gonsalves, Sagar Gorkhe, Ramesh Gaichor, Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha.
The protesting activists alleged that the death of Stan Swamy (83) was a “brutal assassination by the prison administration, the NIA, and the government.”
Swamy’s co-accused and activist Sudhir Dhawale, in a letter written to the Taloja prison superintendent and the case lawyers, had claimed there had been no change in conditions in the jail, including a general lack of apathy among the prison administration and lack of medical facilities, which were among the various causes that led to Swamy’s death.
“A year ago, this day, the state had Father Stan Swamy killed,” the letter alleged, adding the situation continued to be the same in jail. “The prison authorities continue to handle the premise with same brazenness and prisoners continue to face their wrath,” the letter had said.
Meanwhile, it also claimed that while in prison, Swamy had to struggle for access to basic facilities, including a sipper or a simple walking stick. “He had to file petitions in court for everything,” the letter said. It further alleged that when Swamy fell seriously ill, instead of making medical care available, the prison authorities kept him confined in jail.
Swamy, a well-known tribal rights activist, suffered from several medical ailments, including Parkinson’s disease. He died in a private hospital in Mumbai on July 5, 2021 following a massive heart attack, some hours before his medical bail plea was to be taken up for hearing before a vacation bench of the Bombay High Court. His lawyer Mihir Desai and the hospital authorities had informed the court of his death during the hearing.