Jadavpur University fiasco: Professor steps down, refuses to show reason

DC | WRIDDHAAYAN BHATTACHARYYA
Published Sep 20, 2014, 1:11 am IST
Updated Jan 10, 2016, 8:50 am IST
Professor Soumitra Basu steps down, confirms Dean of Arts; issue becomes national
Students take part in a rally against the alleged molestation of Jadavpur University female student in Kolkata (Photo: PTI)
 Students take part in a rally against the alleged molestation of Jadavpur University female student in Kolkata (Photo: PTI)

Mumbai: Among the ongoing problems in the Jadavpur University (JU) campus in Kolkata is the resignation of a professor from the Faculty of Arts. Rajat Acharya – The Dean of Arts – told Deccan Chronicle over telephone that Soumitra Basu, who operated as the head of the department (philosophy) and was part of the Executive Council (EC) confirmed his resignation on Friday.

“It was on September 11 when he told me he would resign. That was before the violence. But today, he told me he had sent his papers to the administration. The EC had had a meeting on September 15 too,” said Acharya.

 

Since the EC’s role is to formulate administrative policies and the unrest in the premises started post the molestation case on August 28, the students believe that Basu stepped down as a mark of protest. But he refused to cite any reason.

“Being honest, I don’t have any right to divulge information on issues like resignation. It is a confidential thing and I want to maintain the protocol. It can only be disclosed by the authority,” he said.

Basu, deeply shaken by the recent tremors, told this reporter how the September 17 violence hurt him.

“It is not that we haven’t seen police in the campus before. But using their strength to withdraw a strike by students is something that could not have happened. They are students after all, they can be dealt with words,” said Basu.

“Even today they were not allowing Registrar Pradip Ghosh, pro Vice-Chancellor Siddhartha Datta and other officials inside office. They were sitting outside and working but when the teachers spoke to the students amicably, they understood and let them in,” added Basu.

Talking about Vice Chancellor Abhijit Chakrabarti’s comment to the media about his feeling of being threatened and murdered on the dreadful night when the students were beaten up, Basu said: “It is entirely his personal feeling.”

“Everyone has his own feeling. If you ask me, I, along with my colleagues were fine. The mood around was rather light and we were not expecting what happened. Since we were gheraoed, we ordered food from outside. I wish I could share that with my students. The VC might have felt uneasy, to each his own,” said Basu.

The professor felt helpless when he could not be with his students and had to leave the campus around 3 am.

But he admitted that the students were rushing the enquiry since they are not aware of the process. “They need to know that according to law, any enquiry on social harassment, needs to be submitted within 90 days. It is not even a month. There is a process to it. I tried explaining it to some of the students and they understood. Police action is not an answer to that,” he added.

Subhajit Chatterjee, Assistant Professor (Film Studies) asserted how the teachers have condemned the whole action of unleashing police force on the students.

“I personally do not believe in gherao but the means undertaken to tackle that and then shamelessly defending it is where the problem lies,” said Chatterjee.

In the meanwhile, the students have boycotted classes for the second day in protest against the police action two days ago.

So, aren’t the teachers going to the university? “No, we are going because we are paid for it. We have also said that if any student wants to attend classes, we will teach them. Going by ethics, we cannot draw salaries if we do not take classes,” he added.

However, he was clueless about Basu’s resignation and said that stepping down is not a solution to this problem. “I don’t know why he stepped down, he might have his personal reasons. But at this time, the teachers need to support the students,” stated Chatterjee.

On the other hand, the whole episode – protests on the street, social media et al – have hit the national button now.

Social media has gone black. People across India have changed their cheerful display pictures to a rectangular black block as a mark of protest in Facebook and Twitter.

Students from institutes across the country are holding peace protest processions as a mark of solidarity. Indian Institute of Technology and Tata Institute of Social Sciences (Mumbai), Jawaharlal Nehru University (New Delhi) and English and Foreign Languages University (Hyderabad) are among the ones who stood by the students of JU.

According to sources, there will be a similar peace march in Bangalore on Sunday at the Town Hall, near KR Market, at 10 am.

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