In a recent development, noted molecular biologist and human rights activist Dr. Partho Sarothi Ray of IISER Kolkata has been served a notice by the National Investigating Agency to appear for questioning in Mumbai over the Elgar Parishad case on 10th September.
Dr. Ray is one of the founding members of Sanhati, a magazine highlighting human rights issues. He is also the convener of a collective called ‘Persecuted Prisoners Solidarity Committee’ formed to provide legal aid to people belonging to the marginalized sections who are suffering from state persecution, especially Adivasis and Dalits.
In 2012, the West Bengal state government incarcerated him for participating in a demonstration against eviction of slum dwellers in Kolkata. A letter condemning his arrest was sent to the then PM Manmohan Singh demanding his imminent release by numerous intellectuals and activists including the likes of Noam Chomsky, Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey etc. He was later acquitted of all charges .
In November last year Dr. Ray’s Yahoo email account received the following message from the tech company, ”We believe your Yahoo account may have been the target of government-backed actors, which means that they could gain access to the information in your account.”.
Despite the raging pandemic, the NIA has been actively hounding academicians, activists, and lawyers like Hany Babu, Stan Swamy, Nihalsing Rathod, Viplav Teltumbde, PK Vijayan etc. for questioning over the Elgar Parishad case, Dr. Ray happens to be the most recent addition in this list. In June this year, Nihalsing Rathod, PK Vijayan, and Partho Sarothi Ray were named in a joint report published by Amnesty International and the Citizen Lab as individuals targeted by a coordinated spyware campaign in India, besides 6 other human rights defenders.