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Protest price whiff in Presi registrar move

Prabir Dasgupta,

Presidency University registrar Prabir Dasgupta, who was among the most vocal in protesting last year’s vandalism of the campus by people carrying Trinamul flags, has been removed from his post and asked to join a government college as teacher.

Dasgupta, who had been a geology teacher at the erstwhile Presidency College for over a decade, became registrar of the university in 2012 after taking a two-year lien from the West Bengal Education Service. The lien ended on June 5, 2014.

On Wednesday, the state government rejected Dasgupta’s application to quit the service and asked him to seek release from the university. The university released him in the evening, so he could join Durgapur Government College as associate professor on Thursday.

Teachers and officials at the College Street institution suspect Dasgupta was denied the chance to quit the education service and remain at Presidency because of his role after the attack on the campus on April 10, 2013.

Higher education minister Partha Chatterjee, however, said the move was routine and had nothing to do with last year’s incident.

“Government colleges suffer from a shortage of teachers. So we have asked him (Dasgupta) to return to a government college (Presidency was a government college before becoming university). We don’t even remember what he had said in April last year. Had we been so vindictive, the education department could have issued a similar order immediately after the April 10 incident,” said Chatterjee.

A section of Presidency teachers said Dasgupta had drawn the ire of the Trinamul government for daring to say in public that persons carrying Trinamul Congress Chhatra Parishad (TMCP) flags had barged into the campus and ransacked the institute.

“When then education minister Bratya Basu had said that carrying a TMCP flag did not make one a party activist, Dasgupta shot back saying that if someone wore the jersey of a party, he had to be considered a party activist,” said a Presidency professor.

“Today’s decision appears to be the price he is having to pay for daring to take on the ruling establishment.”

Then industry minister Partha Chatterjee had branded university guard Pappu Singh a “CPM cadre” and blamed him for the attack. Dasgupta had defended the guard.

Chatterjee was critical of the registrar, too. “I am surprised that the VC (Malabika Sarkar) and the registrar spoke to the media on the incident before going to the chancellor first,” Chatterjee had said.

Pappu has since been transferred from Presidency.

Many saw in Wednesday’s move an attempt by Chatterjee to settle scores with Dasgupta.

Vice-chancellor Anuradha Lohia said the university had followed due procedures to release Dasgupta. “The fax (about Dasgupta) reached us around 6.30pm,” said Lohia.

Dasgupta was unavailable for comment.

The government’s decision in regard to Dasgupta is in tune with some of the recent moves of the Trinamul government.

Kalyani University had last month removed Alok Ghosh as legal officer allegedly following pressure from the government. Ghosh had vowed to continue the probe into the conduct of a Trinamul student leader in a cash-for-seats scam.

Bismay Rai, a registrar in the home (publication) department, had been suspended allegedly because he stood by a pest-control worker whom the government had accused of conspiring to set Writers’ ablaze.