The Special National Investigation Agency (NIA) Court on Monday rejected the bail applications of Professor Hany Babu and three other accused in the ongoing Bhima Koregaon case.
The other three – Sagar Gorkhe, Ramesh Gaichor and Jyoti Jagtap – belong to the Kabir Kala Manch, a cultural group formed after the 2002 Gujarat riots to spread anti-caste and pro-democracy messages through poetry, music, and street theatre.
Babu, also an anti-caste activist, was arrested by the NIA on July 2020 as part of the Bhima Koregaon case aka Elgar Parishad case. The 54-year-old Delhi University professor was booked under the draconian anti-terror law, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and has been in prison since. Prior to his arrest, the NIA had raided Babu’s Noida residence in 2019 without a warrant and confiscated several items.
The three others were arrested in September 2020.
The NIA has accused all of them of being part of a Maoist conspiracy to assassinate the Prime Minister and overthrow the government as well as causing caste violence at the annual Bhima Koregaon event in 2018.
Babu was not a part of the event, but has been accused of being a member of the banned organisation CPI(Maoist).
During the hearing on Monday, Babu’s counsel submitted that even if all the allegations against the professor stand true and he is charged with being a member of the banned organisation, the offence would not be punishable by more than 10 years of imprisonment. His lawyer also pointed out that Babu had already spent a year and a half in the prison and that the trial in the case was unlikely to begin in the near future.
However, Babu and the others were denied bail by the court.
Previously, back in September 2021, the Special NIA Court had rejected the application filed by Babu and co-accused Gautam Navlakha and Sudha Bharadwaj, seeking a copy of the draft charges submitted by the NIA.
Later in December, the Bombay High Court granted default bail to Bharadwaj, the 60-year-old lawyer and activist. However, the court rejected the bail applications of eight other accused in the same case – Sudhir Dawale, Varavara Rao, Rona Wilson, Advocate Surendra Gadling, Professor Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut, Vernon Gonsalves, and Arun Ferreira.
A recent review by The Wire revealed that at least nine phone numbers among the numerous targetted by the Pegasus spyware belonged to the activists, lawyers and academics arrested between June 2018 and October 2020 for their supposed role in the Elgar Parishad case. This includes Babu, Wilson, Gonsalves, Anil Teltumbde, Sen, Navlakha, Ferreira, and Bharadwaj.