The Central University of Jharkhand (CUJ) in Ranchi has suspended an assistant professor from her post on charges of inviting a former JNU professor, who authorities said had links to the recent ‘anti-national’ protests.
Shreya Bhattacharji, who was also the dean of students’ welfare, was suspended on March 28 for inviting MN Panini, a retired JNU professor with the Centre for the Study of Social System, to be the guest of honour at a function to commemorate the 140th birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel held on March 19.
Bhattacharji was asked to step down and give charges to Ajai Singh after she was suspended.
“In exercise of power… the vice chancellor is pleased to assign the duties of dean of students’ welfare to Dr Ajai Singh, ... in addition to his other assigned duties with immediate effect till further orders,” the order issued on March 29, of which HT has a copy, said.
Authorities at CUJ, the only central university in Jharkhand located in Brambe on the outskirts of Ranchi, alleged that Panini was associated with the recent anti-national protests on JNU campus and was a mentor of Kanhaiya Kumar and his friends in the past.
Authorities said they were aware of the invite sent to Panini but did not know about his credentials. They accused Bhattacharji of hiding the facts thereby indirectly indulging in anti-national activities and bringing disrepute to the central university.
Panini, however, did not turn up after vice-chancellor Nand Kumar Yadav called him and requested to cancel his visit on the penultimate day of the ceremony. Yadav said he was flooded with emails, text messages and phone calls demanding that Panini visit be cancelled, some even threatening to show black flags.
“Bhattacharji’s action has tarnished the university’s reputation. Because of the invite she had sent to Panini, Jharkhand governor Droupadi Murmu, supposed to attend the function as chief guest, cancelled her visit at the last moment,” CUJ communication officer, Debabrata Singh, said.
“A three-member committee has been formed to properly investigate the fiasco and submit a report to the vice-chancellor by Wednesday evening. By then we are expecting Bhattacharji to return to the campus and explain her stand,” Singh added.
Bhattacharji could not be reached on her cell phone. Sources close to the suspended teacher said she went home to Kolkata during Holi holidays.
“She is not well at all and undergoing treatment in Kolkata. Kindly do not disturb her,” a friend, who did not wish to be named, said.