KOLKATA: A section of faculty members at Visva-Bharati shot off a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who also happens to be the chancellor of the university, requesting him to take appropriate action to save this august institution “from further degeneration” as protest by students over expulsion of three peers entered the sixth day on Thursday.
Opposing some of the recent decisions taken by Vice Chancellor Bidyut Chakrabory, the letter by Visva Bharati University Faculty Association (VBUFA) said “three students have been rusticated, and a large number of faculty members and employees suspended or issued show-cause notices” in matters which could have been solved through dialogue and discussions.
The association further expressed apprehension that the events that had been unfolding of late, triggered by the decisions taken by the VC over the past two years, might lead to the “closure” of the institution.
“While the Honourable Chancellor interacts with students of this vast country on a regular basis, professor Chakraborty failed to talk to the students who are like our sons and daughters.
Driven by confrontational attitude and lack of vision, professor Chakraborty is leading Visva-Bharati to an existential crisis,” the VBUFA alleged in its letter to Modi.
The faculty body, representing a section of the teachers, alleged in the letter that most members of the university’s different statutory bodies, including the executive council, are acting in a partisan manner “and at the behest of the VC”.
It demanded that an investigation be carried out into the complaints against Chakraborty by an independent committee, headed by a serving or retired judge of a high-court.
The three students, two of them pursuing economics and one from the music department — were expelled by the central university for alleged disorderly conduct.
They were first put under suspension in January 2021 for alleged disorderly conduct and use of abusive words against Chakraborty during a protest at Chhatimtala on the university campus.
A Visva Bharati official said the students were given chance to defend their case before the enquiry commissioner appointed by the university, but they were “adamant and unapologetic” The official also said that the charges levelled against the VC were “untrue” and the university authorities only seek to work in unison with all stakeholders to “improve the multidisciplinary academic standard of the institution” founded by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore.
The agitators, seeking immediate revocation of the expulsion order, have been staging a sit-on outside the VC’s residence over the past five days.
Admissions to undergraduate and postgraduate courses have been put on hold in the wake of the protest, with the varsity issuing a notice to say that Chakraborty had been unable to look after the institute’s affairs.
Amid complaints by the VC that he was finding it difficult to get food from outside due to the demonstration near his residence, the agitators, meanwhile, made arrangements to send him all three meals in a day.
Somnath Sow, one of the expelled students, said that the food items were being handed over to the guards manning the VC’s residence.