The suspension of two professors, detained by police for allegedly indulging in vandalism on the campus in March, by the University of Hyderabad has caught the faculty and students by shock and surprise.
Tathagat Sengupta of the department of English and KY Ratnam of the department of political science were arrested by police along with 25 students on the charges of vandalising the office of vice-chancellor Podile Appa Rao, when he returned to the university to resume his duties on March 22.
The students were agitating for the sacking of Appa Rao, whom they held responsible for the suicide of Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula on January 17 which triggered a nation-wide uproar.
The two professors received orders from the vice-chancellor’s office on Monday evening, stating that they were placed under suspension as per the decision of the university’ executive council.
University spokesperson Prof Vipin Srivastava said the decision was taken at the executive council meeting held recently and orders were issued on Monday accordingly. The suspension will be in force till they are cleared of charges against them made in the first information report of the police.
“The incident happened in March but the suspension order was issued only yesterday though I was no way connected with the attack. Moreover, I was away in Kolkata when the suspension order was issued. I am returning to Hyderabad and will decide on future course of action after discussing with my lawyers,” Sengupta told Hindustan Times.
University authorities invoked a central government rule which says a government servant will be deemed to have been suspended, if he is detained by police for more than 48 hours on a criminal charge or otherwise, with effect from the date of detention.
The UoH Joint Action Committee for Social Justice strongly protested the suspension of the two professors.
“We have been anticipating such harsh action against the professors for quite some time. For the past few days, the vice-chancellor has been selectively targeting students and university teachers. We thought the university would first serve show-cause notices on the two professors, but it straightaway suspended them,” JAC leader Y Bhaskar told HT.
“The university authorities have waited for vacations before resorting to such actions as removal of tents at Rohith Vemula memorial and suspension of professors,” Bhaskar said.
Munsif, one of the students who was arrested, condemned the suspension of Sengupta and Ratnam for standing up to the students’ community.
“The students will rise in rage in solidarity with the professors,” he said.