Around 300 academics across the world, including Nobel laureate economist George Akerlof, and a set of teachers, students and residents of Santiniketan, on Friday wrote to President Droupadi Murmu — Visva-Bharati’s Visitor — seeking steps against the alleged ill intent of the central varsity's administration to evict Nobel laureate economist Amartya Sen from a stretch of land in his ancestral home, Pratichi.
Akerlof is the Koshland Professor of Economics Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, who was awarded the Nobel in 2001 jointly with Michael Spence and Joseph Stiglitz.
James K. Boyce, Emeritus Professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst; Janine Rodgers, alumna of Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva; Prabhat Patnaik, Professor Emeritus at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi; and Rabindranath Tagore's descendant Supriya Tagore were among the signatories.
The letter claimed the varsity administration, under orders of vice-chancellor Bidyut Chakrabarty, has been attacking Sen, who has "ideological differences" with the BJP-led Centre.
“Such an illegal action of the University administration under the instruction of Professor Bidyut Chakrabarty can admit of no interpretation other than that he is trying to capitalise on the ideological differences that Professor Sen has with the ruling NDA government of India by accusing Prof. Sen and that the vice-chancellor is wrongfully trying to get the support of the government as well as trying to shift the focus of the government on his misdeeds to some other issues which are imaginary...,” the letter said.
Visva-Bharati on April 19 in an eviction notice asked Sen to vacate 13 decimals of Pratichi land. The varsity threatened force to take back the land, which it claimed was under Sen's “unauthorised occupation”. Sen’s lawyers approached the court of the district judge of Birbhum against the eviction order. The court is yet to issue any order.
The next hearing is on June 13.
“With the hope that your learned and judicious mind would surely be able to grasp the ill motives behind the action of Professor Bidyut Chakrabarty, we pray before your authority to kindly take appropriate action against him immediately,” the letter said.
Visva-Bharati’s acting public relations officer Mahua Banerjee declined to comment on the letter.