Chomsky, 260 academics move Prez Murmu over sacking of Visva Bharati professor

Jan 11, 2023 08:18 PM IST

The Visva Bharati University Faculty Association, which had earlier agitated against the VC for suspending several teachers on the disciplinary ground, also supported the students’ agitation

Following the sacking of Economics professor Sudipta Bhattacharya by West Bengal’s Visva Bharati University that sparked outrage, 261 academics from across India and prominent US-based philosopher and linguist Noam Chomsky have sought the intervention of President Droupadi Murmu in the summary termination of his service.

President Droupadi Murmu (Twitter Photo)
President Droupadi Murmu (Twitter Photo)

Visva Bharati sacked Bhattacharya, who is also the president of the faculty association, on November 22, accusing him of supporting a recent agitation by students.

The letter dated January 9, 2023, written to the President, which termed the termination as a “brazenly illegal order,” was signed by professors and teachers from some top institutions, including Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).

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Hindustan Times saw a copy of the letter.

“A series of ‘misconducts’ has been listed without specifying the dates and other details of the incident or the specific actions for which Professor Bhattacharya has been indicted. It is clear that no proper inquiry was conducted by the university authorities before initiating draconian disciplinary action against a university professor and office-bearer of the faculty association. Neither has there been a show cause notice issued to the professor concerned. These violations of standard procedure point towards malice and arbitrariness,” the letter signed by the top academics and institutions stated.

The letter directly accused Visva Bharati vice-chancellor Bidyut Chakrabarty, without mentioning his name.

“The termination order is indicative of how the norms, laws and procedures governing Visva Bharati are being violated under the leadership of its current vice-chancellor,” the letter says.

After the professor was sacked, his supporters uploaded a public petition on a popular online platform which was signed by 1387 people till Wednesday.

Visva Bharati authorities did not give any reaction or comment to the letter sent to the President.

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The campus at Bolpur town has witnessed a number of agitations by students and teachers ever since Chakrabarty took over as the university’s vice chancellor in 2018.

In the last agitation held on November 24, the students gheraoed Chakrabarty for around 10 hours till the local police entered the campus and rescued him the next day.

The students started the agitation demanding the VC’s resignation 10 days after submitting a charter of demands aimed at improving the functioning of the university. They said the VC did not respond to it.

The Visva Bharati University Faculty Association, which had earlier agitated against the VC for suspending several teachers on the disciplinary ground, also supported the students’ agitation.

Bhattacharya was one of the teachers who was earlier suspended for several months.

Also Read: Bengal: Visva Bharati University vice-chancellor ‘attacked’ during protest

“The entire Visva-Bharati community strongly supports the demonstration by the students and demands Prof Chakraborty’s resignation as the only solution to this situation,” the association said in a statement on November 24.

The campus witnessed a long agitation last year when three students were expelled on disciplinary grounds. The expulsion order was withdrawn after the Calcutta high court intervened.

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