As the Delhi University professor and a vocal anti-caste crusader Hany Babu completes one year in prison under draconian UAPA in Elgar Parishad case, solidarity from the international academic community has been pouring in. Noam Chomsky, one of the world’s most famous public intellectuals and the 90-year-old Professor Emeritus from MIT has said that the Professor Babu’s case is one egregious example of a clamp down on freedom of expression by the increasingly authoritarian Narendra Modi government.

“Hany Babu has spent almost a year in prison under shocking condition, with no credible charges. He happens to be a respected academic colleague of mine,” the American linguist said in a video message. Hany Babu is well-known for his work on linguistics, caste oppression and reservation in Indian universities. His articles include ‘Breaking the Chaturvarna System of Languages’, ‘Converging struggles and diverging interests: A look at the recent unrest in universities’ and ‘Unequal rights: Freedom, equality, life and liberty of citizens and “others”.’

Chomsky’s video has been made as part of the conference Language and the Problem of Justice organised between 22 and 24 July 2021, by Friends of Hany Babu, in collaboration with Scholars at Risk and The Institute for Post-Colonial Studies.

“Babu is also well known for his dedicated, courageous advocacy of civil rights, and particularly the rights of the most deprived and brutalized elements of Indian society,” said Chomsky.

While rising concerns about 55 year old Babu’s health in the prison, Chomsky pointed out that Babu was subjected to abusive investigation over a long period that’s extending to his treatment in prison where he has even been denied badly needed medical treatment.

“Democracy is a frail plant that can wither and die unless constantly nurtured and defended from the attacks of its enemies. Secular democracy in India has withstood many assaults. The current one might prove to be lethal unless firmly and decisively countered. Defense of Hany Babu is one crucial element of this necessary and urgent task,” Noam Chomsky, sometimes called “the father of modern linguistics”, said.

Babu was arrested by National Investigation agency (NIA) on July 28 last year.

This story first appeared on maktoobmedia.com