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Maoist quiz for Delhi professor

New Delhi, Jan. 10: Delhi University professor G.N. Saibaba was questioned yesterday over alleged Maoist links, nearly four months after police searched his home and days after top rebel leader G. Venkatakrishna Prasad surrendered.

The physically challenged teacher of English was quizzed for over four hours by a Maharashtra police team from rebel hotbed Gadchiroli, from where a former JNU student and a BHU alumnus were arrested within weeks of each other last year on suspicion of ties with Maoists.

The search on Saibaba’s Delhi home had followed the interrogation of the duo.

After the September swoop, sources in security agencies had said there was a post on a “Maoist-friendly network” saying “What should I do now?” and attributed it to Saibaba. The agencies interpreted the post on the “dedicated rebel network” as an attempt to seek directions from senior CPI (Maoist) leaders.

The agencies are trying to unravel the “network” that is understood to be a communication backbone of the Maoists, sources said.

Saibaba’s questioning revolved around files found on his computer’s hard disc during the search. He was “confronted” with the files and the findings of cyber experts who had scanned them over the past few months.

The documents allegedly relate to strategy and tactics of Maoists, but the sleuths focused on the source of the information as such material is available in the public domain too.

Some of Saibaba’s colleagues from the Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) had gathered outside his home during the questioning.

Later, a union member said the session went off smoothly and there was no “confrontation” with the sleuths as they decided not to take Saibaba into custody.

Security sources said the professor may not be arrested now to avoid the risk of propaganda by Maoists who could target the police for targeting a physically challenged person. Saibaba is wheelchair-bound.

Saibaba said in a statement later that he had co-operated with the cops. “They sought information and clarifications regarding my political activity as well as my academic interests. I extended my co-operation to the fullest and answered their doubts and questions to the best of my abilities and without any restraint. I hope that I have satisfactorily addressed all their concerns and that the matter will be laid to rest now.”

Saibaba, also a prominent social activist, is accused of being in touch with senior CPI (Maoist) leaders including general secretary Ganapathy. “Saibaba was the hub (of Maoists in Delhi) and in touch with senior leaders through the cyber world and couriers,” said a source in a security agency.

The claims are largely based on the questioning of former JNU student Hem Mishra, arrested in August last, and BHU engineering alumnus Prashant Rahi, held weeks later.

The police said the duo were involved in expanding Maoists’ urban base and it was after Rahi’s questioning that Gadchiroli police zeroed in on Saibaba, who had been under the watch of intelligence agencies in the capital.

The sources claimed that arrested Maoist leaders Kobad Ghandy and Bacha Prasad Singh had also named Saibaba as their contact in the national capital.