Visva Bharati issues gag order for faculty, non-teaching staff
The Visva Bharati (VB) on Thursday issued a notice saying if its teaching or non-teaching staff wishes to give any statements to the media, it has to do so only via the central university’s public relations in charge in writing. It also barred the staff from speaking to the media on matters pertaining to the university without permission.
The Visva Bharati University Faculty Association (VBUFA) immediately condemned the order. “This order stands in conflict with VB’s Acts and Statutes. The rules referred to here are applicable to only the direct government employees. Since universities are autonomous institutions, it can never be applied to universities. Union minister Prakash Javadekar had made it clear in October 2018,” said VBUFA president Sudipta Bhattacharya, referring to the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964, cited in the order.
“All staff members of the university, both teaching, and non-teaching, should air any public statement they may wish to the media through Shri Anirban Sircar, assistant registrar and in -charge, public relations, in writing,” the notice said. “No staff member of the university, except for Sircar shall make any statement/ views on the matters pertaining to the university to the press personnel or electronic/print media, without prior permission of the competent authority.” The order warned of action in case of violations of the order.
“To seek public limelight and self-importance through media for oneself is unworthy of any teacher or employee of Visva-Bharati. Visva-Bharati itself seeks no publicity. The genuine grievances of the staff will be sympathetically attended to be the concerned officers and the higher authorities,” said the notice.
There have been tensions on the campus since October 2019 as Left-wing students have been opposing “the vice-chancellor [Bidyut Chakraborty]’s drive to saffronise Rabindranath Tagore’s sacred institution [VB].”
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