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Top Kolkata-based scientist may be arrested on 'false charges', fear 1000 academics, scientists

By Our Representative

More than 1,000 members of the scientific and academic community have taken strong exception to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) summoning well-known scientist and activist, Prof Partho Sarothi Ray, of the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (Kolkata) in the investigation of the Bhima-Koregaon violence.
In a statement, they said, instead of investigating those responsible for the actual violent clashes in Bhima-Koregaon, the NIA (and earlier, the Pune police), has been arresting “illustrious citizens – including academics, lawyers and prominent activists.” 
The statement said, “Most of the individuals who have been taken into custody were not even present at the Elgaar Parishad event”, pointing out, “It is very unlikely that the government will secure a conviction in this case.” Yet, it added, using the “draconian” Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), the government has “prevented those who have been arrested from obtaining bail. 
The statement said, NIA is claiming to investigate a non-existent conspiracy under the “flimsy cover for cracking down on urban Naxals – who, in reality, are only dissident intellectuals – and keeping them in prison indefinitely.” It added, “After arresting Prof Hany Babu of Delhi University a few weeks ago, NIA has continued to interrogate academics and activists, and even the defence lawyers for some of the accused.”
It added, “Most recently, we understand that the NIA has summoned the well-known scientist and activist, Prof Partho Sarothi Ray, of the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (Kolkata) to Mumbai on September 10 for questioning in this case.”
Known for his “outstanding scientific work”, the statement said, Prof Ray has been “deeply involved in social causes. He has been working extremely hard in coordinating efforts in the Nadia district to battle the Covid-19 pandemic by helping to set up and operate the government-run Covid-testing center in the district.
A critic of the Central government’s response to the pandemic, Prof Ray has publicly stated that he has no knowledge of the Bhima-Koregaon incident and has never visited the area. “We are concerned that Prof Ray may also be arrested on false charges”, the statement said, calling upon the government to “immediately end its crackdown on dissidents, release those whom it has arrested in the Elgaar-Parishad case.”

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