A group of renowned scholars has called upon the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to allow Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Guwahati professor Arupjyoti Saikia to continue his work unimpeded.
Saikia was on Saturday questioned for four hours by the central investigating agency in its office at Sonapur on the outskirts of Guwahati.
According to sources, Saikia was questioned in connection with a case related to protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) in Assam.
The group of Indian scholars and academics from across the country expressing their concern with regard to the ongoing ordeal of Professor Arupjyoti Saikia in a statement said: “Professor Saikia is one of the country’s most distinguished and respected historians”.
Among those who signed the statement are noted historian Ramachandra Guha, Partha Chatterjee, former Director, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Kolkata; Pratap Bhanu Mehta of Ashoka University, Nandini Sundar of Delhi University, Nivedita Menon of JNU, Tamil historian AR Venkatachalapathy, and Srinath Raghavan of Ashoka University.
Niraja Gopal Jayal of JNU, Samantak Das of Jadavpur University, Enakshi Bhattacharya, IIT-Madras, Dr Raziuddin Aquil of Delhi University and Rita Kothari of Ashoka University also signed in the statement.
“Professor Saikia is an adornment to the literary and intellectual world of Assam and of India,” the signatories said in the statement.
“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 read.
“That a scholar of such standing, and a human being of such decency, has been called for intensive grilling by the National Investigative Agency is deeply distressing,” it said.
They pointed out that Saikia has a very high reputation nationally and internationally.
“For his contributions to scholarship, Professor Saikia is hugely admired, indeed venerated, in his native Assam,” said the scholars.
“His scholarship recognized by a prestigious fellowship from Yale University,” they added.
The scholars in the statement said: “We urge that the NIA treat him with the dignity and respect he deserves, and allow him to continue his professional work unimpeded.”
Earlier, Assam finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had in a press meet indicated that a person working in a central government organisation was directly involved in the violent anti-CAA protests in Guwahati.
Without naming anybody Sarma had stated that there was electronic evidence that a leading academician from Assam was trying to orchestrate the burning of Assam Secretariat at Dispur capital complex.
The NIA has so far arrested four KMSS leaders — Akhil Gogoi, Dharya Konwar, Bitu Sonowal and Manash Konwar for their alleged links with Maoists.
The NIA has also grilled another KMSS activist Hussain Mohammad Sahjahan.