Published: 19th June 2019
Did WB varsity profs withdraw resignation after education minister assures action?
The university’s Arts Teachers Council had also led rallies along the Barrackpore Trunk Road and also organised sit-ins in front of the Rabindranath Tagore statue on campus
The four departmental heads of the Rabindra Bharati University in Kolkata who had put in their papers over alleged racist remarks made against them by members of the Trinamool Congress Chhatra Parishad (TMCP) have reportedly withdrawn their resignation after the state education minister intervened and assured that a proper investigation will be conducted.
"The professors who had tendered their resignation have withdrawn them after the State Education Minister, Partha Chatterjee, assured them that proper action will be taken," said a source at the university. But neither the V-C nor the professors have confirmed the news.
Members of the students' wing of the Mamata Banerjee-led party were accused of passing casteist remarks towards a professor of the Geography department. The teacher, a member of a scheduled tribe, was called names while the students gheraoed her protesting for low marks on May 20. She filed a complaint with the varsity on May 23 which set up a fact-finding committee but allegedly the Vice-Chancellor, Sabyasachi Basu Raychaudhuri, attended only the first meeting on June 17, reported The Telegraph.
The university’s Arts Teachers Council led rallies along the Barrackpore Trunk Road and also organised sit-ins in front of the Rabindranath Tagore statue on campus.
But the authorities were jolted out of their alleged slumber when five heads of departments of the university resigned on Monday, June 17. Even though the V-C did not accept the resignations of Amal Kumar Mondol (Sanskrit department), Bankim Mondol, head of the political science department, Bindi Shaw, head of the economics department, Bharati Banerjee, head of the education department and Ashish Kumar Das, the director of the Ambedkar Study Centre — it garnered some attention and made it to most local dailies.
On Tuesday, the State Education Minister Partha Chatterjee personally visited the campus and sat in a meeting with VC Basu Raychaudhuri and a few of the agitating professors. "This is not expected at a place, which has been named after Rabindranath Tagore. Such practices will tarnish the reputation of the institution. This should not have happened. We are looking into the matter. Action will be taken if anybody is found guilty during the investigation," Chatterjee told reporters after the meeting. “What happened is a matter of serious concern and chief minister Mamata Banerjee is herself looking into the matter. We could not make contact with the victim professor. I will try and contact her and make her speak with the chief minister,” he said.
The TMCP members, on their part, said the charge levelled against them was baseless. On the contrary, they alleged that the professors do not hold classes regularly. "Not just that, I know for a fact that this professor, among others in the campus, has been openly pejorative towards Trinamool Chhatra Parishad students in class. Say, a student has been involved in a cultural programme — we have many of these in RBU — and could not attend classes, he or she would be taunted by teachers. The teacher in question was being asked by students as to why she had given them such low marks without discussing the issue with them first or conducting proper classes on the subject. Not only did the students not make casteist taunts, I believe it is the teacher who is trying to hide behind such allegations the fact that she taught poorly,” Karan Chauhan, the joint state secretary of the Chhatra Parishad, told The Wire