In my college days in Maharaja’s during the 80s, MT Harish was one of my closest friends. Now a professor in medical college, his home then in Punkunnam, Thrissur was a common hangout place for me during those days. During the time spent there we used to watch world classic cinemas from video cassettes that his father, who was working in the Gulf, had collected and read the latest books. That is how I came to make acquaintance with his younger brothers Ansari and Hany Babu who were students then.
It was many years later that I came across the controversial literary criticism of a prominent Malayalam writer, N S Madhavan’s story ’Higuita’ and learned that it was written by MT Ansari, brother of Harish. Then several years later, I was introduced to Jenny Rowena through her writings and personally too, and I came to know that Hany Babu is her husband.
In the Post-Mandal era, a few among the students who had secured entrance to the higher education system from Backward/Minority sections began to become part of Dalit-Bahujan politics. This change really caused structural changes and discomfort to the hegemony of the Brahmin-Savarna Left over higher education sector in India. People like Gopal Guru, M S S Pandian represent this new change that was taking form, either through direct or indirect actions. MT Hany Babu’s is a name that deserves to be placed in that group.
The doors to Delhi University was opened to backward/minority students as a result of agitations done by him along with others. There might not be many other scholar-activists who have such a command over topics like reservations, the changes brought by Mandal Commission and democratic rights of Minority sections. To help support his dedicated fights for the rights of Backward/Minority students, academic applicants and organizations, he even secured a degree in Law.
I would say that this attack against Hany Babu by the Hindutva government is part of an orchestrated attempt to dismantle the ever growing Dalit-Bahujan scholarship. There is a concerted attempt to defeat such scholar-activism using various disciplinary tactics in university spaces. Now this assault is one step ahead with the state trying to frame and hunt such individuals, using police force.
The illegal raid that happened in Prof Hany Babu’s house has precipitated widespread protests and support across students, teachers and other sections of society. I join these protests in solidarity.
[The original note in Malayalam was published in author’s social media profile.]
KK Baburaj is a writer, social critic and Dalit activist based in Kerala.