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regular-article-logo Thursday, 23 May 2024

Visva-Bharati suspends SFI leader Somnath over backing Amartya Sen in land dispute case

The central varsity authorities have charged the economist with grabbing a parcel of land at his ancestral home, Pratichi, in Santiniketan

Snehamoy Chakraborty Calcutta Published 28.07.23, 06:13 AM
Somnath Sow.

Somnath Sow. File picture

Visva-Bharati authorities on Wednesday suspended student leader Somnath Sow, a popular face of dissent on the central university campus, for a semester.

SFI leader Somnath has been supporting Nobel laureate Amartya Sen on social media over the latter’s alleged harassment by the central varsity authorities who have charged the economist with grabbing a parcel of land at his ancestral home, Pratichi, in Santiniketan.

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A letter, signed by the varsity’s acting proctor Ganesh Malik, informed Somnath on Wednesday night about the decision of the students’ disciplinary committee to suspend him for one semester.

A semester comprises six months.

“As per the unanimous recommendation of the Standing Students’ Disciplinary Committee (SSDC) which was approved by the competent authority you are hereby suspended for one semester (3rd Semester, MA in MRM) from academic activities of the Department of Lifelong Learning and Extension,” the suspension letter reads.

Somnath’s suspension came six months after his social media post in January where he asked if the Nobel laureate had been targeted with a land-grab charge to serve Visva-Bharati vice-chancellor Bidyut Chakrabarty’s “vested interest”.

“Records from the office of the block land and land revenue officers say the owner (lessee) of 1.38 acres of land is Ashutosh Sen, father of professor Amartya Sen.Then was he (Sen) targetted only to fulfill the vested interest of the vice-chancellor? If it is not so then let Visva-Bharati go public with the ownership document of 0.13 acres (13 decimals) and let the matter be disposed of in a court of law,” one of Somnath’s Facebook posts on January 28 reads.

Just four days before this post, on January 24, Visva-Bharati had sent three letters to Sen asking the Nobel laureate to hand over 13 decimals of land that he allegedly occupied in an “unauthorised” manner, in addition to 1.25 acres given to him as part of a long-term lease for Pratichi. Sen had termed this charge against him “frivolous”.

The subject of this land dispute is now pending at the court of Birbhum district judge. The next hearing is on Friday.

“I took admission to UG economics course in 2017... But it took me five years to complete the three-year course because of a vindictive VC against whose wrongdoings I have always protested here,” said Somnath, referring to a past rustication that was revoked by a court.

“This time I will lose another year in my masters course (in rural management) because of this new suspension,” he added.

Visva-Bharati’s acting public relations officer Mahua Banerjee, however, claimed that the decision to suspend Somnath was taken as he violated a “court verdict”.

“The court verdict was violated and the decision was taken by following due process,” Banerjee replied briefly to this newspaper via a text, possibly implying that a verdict disallowed publishing any opinion on Sen’s land case that is sub judice.

When this newspaper asked Banerjee for a copy of a court verdict that barred Somnath from posting his opinion on social media, she did not reply till the time this report was filed on Thursday night.

“No court order barred my freedom of speech. This fresh suspension on Wednesday was issued because of the vindictive attitude of (varsity) authorities,” Somnath said.

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