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Shunted, but no work

- Principal transferred after FIR against Trinamul union
Kishore Kumar Rarhi after the assault on September 22

Calcutta, Nov. 9: The state government has transferred to Cooch Behar the principal of a Jhargram college who had accused Trinamul union-affiliated students of assaulting him.

The college where he has been shifted to as a professor does not offer linguistics, the subject he specialises in.

Kishore Kumar Rarhi, the 57-year-old principal of Jhargram Raj College, has been transferred to A.B.N. Seal College in Cooch Behar, 770km from his Calcutta home, though a government directive issued in June states that a teacher of a state-run college has to be given a posting in or nearest to his hometown if he is three years or less away from retirement.

A.B.N. Seal College also does not offer a course in linguistics. Calcutta’s Sanskrit College is the only state-run college in Bengal that has a linguistics department. A vacant professor’s post in Sanskrit College’s linguistics department has been shifted to the Cooch Behar institution to accommodate Rarhi.

Rarhi, who was a professor in Sanskrit College before being transferred to Jhargram Raj College in 2010, had requested the government that he be shifted from an administrative post to a teaching one a week before the alleged attack on him by Trinamul Congress Chhatra Parishad students on September 22.

The students had allegedly kicked and punched him during an agitation over poor amenities in the college hostel.

Rarhi, who had to be hospitalised, had lodged an FIR against the vice-president of the Trinamul Chhatra Parishad’s West Midnapore unit, Soumen Acharya, and some other union members.

An education department official said the transfer had “nothing to do” with the campus violence or the police complaint against the student union.

The transfer, coming at a time the Mamata Banerjee government has vowed to depoliticise higher education, has upset several teachers.

“We are stunned. A state government that had vowed to keep politics out of colleges and universities has transferred our principal to a faraway district for protesting against local Trinamul Chhatra Parishad leaders who had sparked violence on our campus,” a teacher of the Jhargram college said.

“We think Rarhi has been punished for raising his voice against the union. The decision goes against the government’s own transfer policy,” he said.

Another teacher said Rarhi should ideally have been transferred to Sanskrit College.

Rarhi, who will retire in October 2015, said he would request the government to tell him the “logic” behind his transfer.

“I still don’t know what my assignment will be at A.B.N. Seal College because the institution does not offer a linguistics course. I will write to the higher education department seeking to know why I have been transferred to a college where my subject is not taught. I want to know the government’s logic behind sending me to the Cooch Behar college because, ultimately, the students will suffer if I am not able satisfy their needs,” he said.

Rarhi rued the fact that he “simply will not have any work in the last three years of my service”.

A senior higher education department official termed the transfer “routine”. Asked about the government directive, the official said: “A government can transfer any teacher any time. There is no rule on job location. He (Rarhi) was transferred for the interests of the students. It has got nothing to do with the campus violence or his complaint.”

Acharya, the Trinamul Chhatra Parishad leader, said he did not know about the transfer. “The principal had lodged a false FIR. I had only tried to disperse two groups of students fighting with each other,” he said.

Nobody had been arrested in connection with the FIR. The police said a probe was still on.