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Jadavpur University professor Samantak Das found dead at home

Das, lovingly called SD on the campus, used to write regularly for the opinion pages of The Telegraph

Our Bureau | Published 21.07.22, 05:43 AM
Samantak Das

Samantak Das

Sourced by The Telegraph

Samantak Das, a professor of comparative literature at Jadavpur University, was found hanging from a ceiling fan at his home in Ranikuthi on the city’s southern fringes on Wednesday afternoon.

Das was 57 and is survived by his mother, estranged wife, son and two daughters.

At Ranikuthi, Das used to live with his mother, his colleagues said.

Das, lovingly called SD on the campus, used to write regularly for the opinion pages of The Telegraph.

Police said when he did not wake up till late on Wednesday morning, a domestic help pushed the door that was locked from inside. She is then said to have peeped into the room through a small gap and saw him hanging.

Earlier in the day, the university’s car went to pick him up and he did not answer the calls from the driver.

The police were informed. Officers from Regent Park police station went to his apartment on the first floor of the four-storey building around 2.30pm and broke open the door.

His mother, who is in her late-80s, was in another room and apparently did not know about her son’s death till Wednesday evening, an officer of the police station said.

Das’s body has been sent for post-mortem. An unnatural death case has been registered.

Das became JU’s pro-vice-chancellor last year. Many on the campus said he was a multifaceted personality.

“He was an outstanding teacher, an excellent scholar, an efficient administrator, a social worker and a dear friend to the students,” said a fellow teacher. 

Sujit Mondal, the current head of the comparative literature department who was taught by Das at Visva-Bharati, said: “He was a Marxist but he never limited himself to party politics.”

Before joining JU in 2005, Das taught at Visva-Bharati for close to 11 years.

A JU official recounted that as a member of the university’s executive council, he had supported the “indefinite hunger” strike by students against the university’s decision to scrap the admission test in deference to the wishes of the state government in July 2018.

“During a meeting of the council convened to decide whether the decision should be reversed, he told the authorities and a few other teachers that at a time a section of students was on indefinite hunger strike for over hundred hours, it would be inhuman not to reverse the decision. The tests were finally restored,” the official said.

On Wednesday, JU vice-chancellor Suranjan Das said Samantak Das was one of the few persons with whom he could discuss things freely “both in academics as well all matters of the university”.

“It is a personal loss to me and the entire Jadavpur University. It is also a great loss to the scholastic world, especially in the realm of comparative literature,” Das told this newspaper.

Last updated on 21.07.22, 05:56 AM
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