On September 10, 2019, police reportedly searched the home of Delhi University professor Hany Babu and confiscated several computers used for his academic work, apparently based on alleged links to the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist).
Babu, a professor of English, is involved in various activist groups including the Committee for the Defense and Release of Dr. G.N. Saibaba, a scholar imprisoned since 2014 for alleged Maoist links (see report).
CPI-Maoist was established in 2004 as a merger of several groups with ideologies aligned with the Chinese leader Mao Zedong, with the goal of promoting the rights of poor and otherwise marginalized communities. Since its founding, the group reportedly began arming itself; its members have been accused of involvement in several major attacks on elected officials and civilians. India’s Ministry of Home Affairs banned the CPI-Maoist party in June 2009, labelling it a terrorist organization.
On September 10, twenty police officers and others not in uniform reportedly searched Babu’s home for six hours, without providing a warrant. Police confiscated his laptop, flash drives, and documents, as well as his and his family’s phones. Police also required Babu to change his social media and email account passwords to give police full access to them. Though police have not publicly disclosed the reasons for the search, sources suggest Babu’s active support for Saibaba was seen as evidence that he had Maoist links.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the warrantless raid of a scholar’s home and confiscation of his and his family’s property, including computers, documents, and phones, in apparent retaliation for the nonviolent exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and association — conduct that is expressly protected by international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which India is party. States have an obligation not to interfere with the rights to free expression and association, so long as they are exercised peacefully and responsibly. Such actions undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.