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    ‘Treat IIT-G Professor Arupjyoti Saikia With Dignity’: 42 Scholars Write To NIA

    Last year, Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma claimed that a central government organisation employee was directly involved in anti-CAA protests in Guwahati

    A group of 42 scholars and academicians from across the country have expressed concern over the ordeal of Indian Institute of Technology-Guwahati (IIT-G) faculty member Arupjyoti Saikia (52), who was summoned and grilled by the National Investigation Agency on February 1st, 2020.

    Though the probe agency did not specify why Saikia had been grilled for about four hours, it is said that he was summoned for his alleged involvement in the violent anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests in Guwahati. He will be grilled by the NIA on February 3rd, 2020 too.

    In their statement, the scholars asked the NIA to “treat him with dignity… and allow him to continue his work unimpeded”. Saikia is a professor of History in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at IIT-G.

    “Professor Saikia is an adornment to the literary and intellectual world of Assam and of India. He is also an individual of high moral character; gentle, soft-spoken, and utterly non-violent. His devotion to his students at IIT Guwahati is exemplary,” the statement said.

    “That a scholar of such standing, and a human being of such decency, has been called for intensive grilling by the NIA is deeply distressing. We urge that the NIA treat him with the dignity and respect he deserves, and allow him to continue his professional work unimpeded,” the statement added.

    Among the scholars and academics who issued the statement are Ramachandra Guha, Sukanta Chaudhuri , Niraja Gopal Jayal, Samantak Das, Pratap Bhanu Mehta, Nivedita Menon, Geetha Venkataraman, Nandini Sundar, Nayanjyot Lahiri, Janaki Nair, Kishalay Bhattarcharya and Raziuddin Aquil.

    It may be recalled that Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had earlier claimed that an intellectual working at a Central government institution had choreographed the attack to burn down the Janata Bhawan in Dispur on December 11th, 2019.

    “He was monitoring the entire exercise from a control room. They had plans to burn down Janata Bhawan that day. We have seen a design and we are talking with evidence,” Sarma told reporters in Guwahati without mentioning any name.

    Saikia is also said to be a close aide of arrested KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi and an acclaimed author from Assam. He was sent a ‘witness summon’ by NIA under section 160 CrPC to appear before them, his counsel told media.

    Responding to the letter, the Congress’s Jairam Ramesh said he ‘was “absolutely shocked and dumbfounded by Arupjyoti’s ordeal”. “He is one of our most ourstanding historians and his most recent book on the Brahmaputra is a classic,” Ramesh tweeted.

    Photo credit: iitg.ac.in  

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