Students of Visva Bharati University participated in a protest rally in solidarity with suspended student, at Santiniketan (Birbhum) on Wednesday night, January 4, 20,23. Students have been protesting at the campus since November in protest against the denial of hostel accommodation to six of their peers. Photo credit: PTI

Over 250 academics including Noam Chomsky the linguist have written to President Draupadi Mumudu informing her about Sudipta Bhattacharya’s termination of service due to “undesirable” actions and seeking her intervention.

The January 9th letter stated that Visva Bharati had committed the act of “illegal” and that no proper investigation was made to determine if the university’s “lists of misconducts” indicating that Mr. Bhattacharya may have been involved on other occasions.

PTI has been provided with a copy the letter.

According to the letter to President, Mr. Bhattacharya received a December 22 notice from the Central University executive council about his “discontinuation/contract of service/contract avec Visva Bharati”.

“A series of misconducts was listed without specifying dates and other details. It is clear that there was no proper investigation by university authorities before taking draconian disciplinary actions against a university professor or office-bearer of faculty association.

The letter was signed by Mr. Chomsky, Amiya Bagchi (economist), former director of Centre for Studies in Social Sciences. It also included a reference to Professor Sumit Sarkar, Jadavpur University Emeritus Professor Supriya Choudhury and Partha Chatterjee (XLRI).

It noted that the termination order against Mr. Bhattacharya was indicative of how Visva Bharati’s rules, laws and procedures are being “violated by its current vice president Bidyut Chakrabarty.”

“As Visva Bharati’s visitor, and the custodian to statutes, ordinance and university regulations, we request you to kindly intercede and ensure that this institution of national importance, founded by RabindranathTagore, continues to foster the spirit ‘where the mind can be without fear’ instead descending into a saga involving intimidation, vendetta, and high-handedness from the authorities,” the letter read.

When Mr. Bhattacharya was approached, he told TTI that faculty members had contacted M. Chomsky, and informed him of the development. Following which, the linguist/social criticism expressed solidarity.

The Visva Bharati authorities refused to comment.

Students have been protesting the campus’ denial of accommodation for some of their peers since November. They also protested the suspension of six other students.

The university called off the annual Poush Mela, a fair that takes place in the Bengali month Poush, and the convocation ceremony.

A spokesperson for Visva Bharati said last week that a variety of alleged actions were being committed by students, such as vandalism in the chamber of the vice-chancellor and ante-chamber, ransacking CCTV monitors and physical assault on VC. She also stated that the varsity will take legally endorsed steps to restore peace on campus, including rustication, dismissal and a reorganization.

“… This so-called student organization has been nothing more than a brazen display and exploitation of thuggery. This self-described democratic movement’s might is right attitude is unacceptable and will be dealt with severely,” the university statement stated.

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