We are alarmed and concerned at the news of Partho Sarathi Ray, faculty member at IISER-Kolkata, being summoned by the NIA regarding the Bhima Koregaon case as reported in the media.
We note that this comes in the heel of recent summons, a few weeks back, to Rakesh Ranjan and P K Vijayan, both teachers at the Delhi University, again related to the same case. There are also reports that K. Satyanaryana, faculty member at EFLU-Hyderabad, and journalist K.V. Kurmanath, have also now been summoned by NIA with regard to the same case. Meanwhile, several of the defense lawyers of those who had been earlier arrested have also been summoned.
Apart from being a very popular teacher and well-known biologist, Partho has been very actively and passionately involved in supporting as well participating in diverse democratic rights movements across the country, often promptly traveling to far-flung areas to witness the struggles firsthand. He is also one of the founding members of Sanhati, which has been one of the first initiatives in building a media platform reporting and analysing the people’s movements. More recently, Partho has been trying to develop campaigns regarding the plight of hundreds of political prisoners across the country. Apart from working with solidarity movements on the ground, Partho has extensively written and spoken in various forums across India and abroad, about the wide range of issues that confront the struggling people in this country.
It is by now evident that in the name of investigating the violence that happened during the Elgar Parishad in Bhima-Koregaon during January 2018, the investigation agencies have launched a witch-hunt to harass and incarcerate prominent activists, intellectuals, and lawyers, who are in no way connected to the organisation of the Elgar Parishad or the incidents surrounding it, but who have been outspoken in espousing the cause of the struggling masses across India and vociferously protesting against the state repression on the common people. In contrast, the actual right-wing perpetrators of violence, as identified by several witnesses, are roaming around scot-free. We strongly feel that this cruel persecution of innocent persons should immediately end. The Union Government must stop the deliberate harassment of the academics and activists and immediately halt all coercive measures via investigating agencies to suppress voices of dissent arising via the recent anti-CAA-NRC protests, Dalit rights movements, struggles for land rights, and the students movements across campuses. This has created an environment where democracy is being stifled and the Constitutional order is being subverted. Also, we urge the judiciary to actively intervene by halting this witch-hunt and protecting the rights of citizens as enshrined in the Constitution.
We call upon everyone to join us in strongly protesting against this well-planned attack on Partho Sarathi Ray and other activists and academics, and participate in the ongoing struggles in upholding and enhancing the democratic rights of the Indian citizens.