Visva Bharati professor sacking professor Sudipta Bhattacharya’s service?

Students from Visva Bharati University take part in a demonstration in solidarity with suspended students. It took place at Santiniketan, Birbhum, Wednesday, January 4, 2023. Since November, a section of students have been protesting on campus over the alleged denial hostel accommodation to their peers and the suspensions of six others. Photo Credit: PTI

Over 250 academics, including Noam Chomsky, a well-known linguist, wrote to President Draupadi Mumudu informing her of the termination of Visva Bharati professor Sudipta Bhattacharya’s service and asking for her intervention.

The January 9th letter described Visva Bharati’s action as brazenly illegal, and argued that no proper investigation was done to confirm the “list of misconducts”, which were flagged by the university.

PTI has received a copy of the letter.

On December 22, Mr. Bhattacharya was informed about his “discontinuation in service/contract with Visva Bharati” at a meeting on the executive council of Central university. The letter to the President stated that.

Visva Bharati remains on boil after faculty termination, university’s statement slams student protests

“A number of misconducts have been listed without specifying the dates or other details of the incident, nor the specific actions for whom Professor Bhattacharya was indicted. It is evident that the university authorities did not conduct a proper investigation before instituting draconian discipline against a professor at the university and an office-bearer in the faculty association.

“Neither has there been a notice of show cause issued to the professor concerned,” said the letter, signed by Mr. Chomsky, economist Amiya bagchi, former director, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences and Partha Chatterjee, XLRI Professor Sumit Sharma, Jadavpur University Emeritus Prof Supriya Chaudhury, among others.

It stated that Mr. Bhattacharya’s termination order is an indication of how Visva Bharati’s norms, laws, and procedures are being “violated” under the current vice-chancellor Bidyut Chakrabarty.

“As Visva Bharati’s visitor and as the custodian for statutes and ordinance, we ask you to intervene to ensure that this university of national significance that Rabindranath Tagore founded continues to promote the spirit of ‘where mind is free from fear’ rather than falling into a saga full of intimidation, vendetta and high-handedness by authorities,” the letter stated.

When approached by PTI, Mr. Bhattacharya said that faculty members had contacted him about the development and informed him. The linguist/social critic then expressed solidarity with him.

However, the authorities at Visva Bharati refused to comment.

Since November, a section of students have been protesting on campus over the alleged denial hostel accommodation to their peers. Six others were also suspended.

In the wake of unrest, the university has rescheduled the convocation ceremony as well as the annual Poush Mela (a fair that is held in the Bengali months of Poush)

A spokesperson for Visva Bharati stated that a number of alleged student activities were listed in a media statement. These included vandalism at the vice-chancellor’s chamber and ante-chambers, ransacking CCTV monitors, physical attack on the VC and attack on the registrar’s private residence. He also said that the varsity would be taking legally endorsed measures, including rustication or dismissal, to restore peace and order on campus.

“… The so-called student movement was nothing but a brazen display thuggery. “The might is right attitude that characterised this self-described democratic movement is unacceptable, and shall be dealt sternly,” said the university statement.

Shivi

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