The state government on Wednesday decided to set up a committee to probe the stalemate at Rabindra Bharati University (RBU), where a number of guest lecturers have been on an indefinite hungerstrike since last week, protesting retrenchment of their colleagues.
The indefinite agitation by at least 30 guest lecturers took a turn for the worse on Wednesday, after a section of the full-time teachers joined the movement and boycotted classes.
The retrenched guest lecturers were working as part-time teachers in the fine arts and visual arts faculties for several years. Bharati Mukherjee, vice-chancellor, RBU, said functioning of the university was disrupted after a number of full-time teachers did not attend classes in support of the movement.
On Tuesday, one of the striking lecturers fell seriously ill and had to be admitted to the intensive care unit of a hospital. The agitators threatened that they would continue their movement till their demands were met.
Campus sources said the government, too, has expressed concern over the imbroglio and on its orders, the university submitted a report to Satyasadhan Chakraborty, state higher education minister, on Wednesday.
The agitating teachers alleged that they were suddenly removed from their posts on “flimsy grounds” by the university authorities.
According to vice-chancellor Mukherjee, the university had to take the decision to cull the guest lecturers’ posts in response to a directive from the University Grants Commission (UGC), asking them to lessen all surplus part-time teachers in view of the funds crunch prevailing in all state-aided universities across the country.
According to her, the number of guest lecturers in the performing arts faculty of the RBU was higher than any other university offering similar courses.
The number of guest lecturers in the arts faculties was more than 130 till last August. “We have been forced to reduce the number to 86, otherwise the UGC would have curtailed the funds to the university for running the existing full-time posts,” said Mukherjee. She claimed a faulty recruitment policy followed by her predecessors was partly responsible for the surplus of guest lecturers in the university.