Around a hundred Visva-Bharati students will meet Amartya Sen on Wednesday to express their solidarity with the Nobel laureate, who is being harassed by varsity authorities over a tiny parcel of land on Pratichi, his ancestral home in Santiniketan.
The show of solidarity with Sen is being seen as a message of defiance aimed at vice chancellor Bidyut Chakrabarty, believed to be the brain behind the harassment of the economist.
Several students this correspondent spoke to said they believed Chakrabarty accused Sen of grabbing land to please his “political bosses in Delhi”.
“We have formed a social media group and are asking all fellow students to join us to stand with Dr Sen, who is our illustrious alumnus.... It is a shame that our university authorities are accusing him of illegally possessing 13 decimals of land and trying to defame him. Over 160 students have joined the group so far and we are expecting at least 100 to be present in the meeting with him,” said one of the organising students.
Sen has agreed to meet them at 3pm on Wednesday at the courtyard of Pratichi, his ancestral home.
The university has accused the economist of occupying without authorisation a 13-decimal (0.13 acre) area of land and issued an eviction order that Calcutta High Court has stayed till a pending case is over at the district judge’s court in Suri. The case would be heard again on July 15.
The students who plan to meet Sen include those belonging to various unions as well.
“We have formed a common platform with the unions.... We will meet Dr Sen and tell him that the student community is always with him,” said Minakshi Bhattacharya, a Trinamul Chhatra Parishad leader on campus.
The varsity authorities recently terminated Minakshi from a PhD course, allegedly for her protests against Chakrabarty’s “wrongdoings”.
The students also want to share their experiences with Sen on how the present administration is vindictive towards students for voicing their views against the wrongdoings of authorities, especially its VC Chakrabarty, whose five-year term will end this November.
During Chakrabarty's tenure, many students had to move court against his decision to suspend them or terminate them from their courses. A student was evicted for recording a video of Chakrabarty when he commented on the Constitution in 2020.
Many feel Chakrabarty is also not as powerful as he once was. “Even BJP leaders are distancing themselves from the VC.... The VC doesn’t have any support other than from a few of his cronies,” said Somnath Sow, an SFI leader in Visva-Bharati and a popular voice of dissent on campus.
Some Visva-Bharati alumni are also likely to join the students to meet Sen on Wednesday.
“We will also be there to show our support to Prof Sen. We think it is our moral duty to save Visva-Bharati from its present state,” said a former student.