Published: 30th October 2021
Offices, workshops locked: How researchers working under suspended profs at Visva-Bharati are bearing the brunt of red tape
The professor wrote to the Registrar of the varsity on October 2 to open his room at least for the others but had not received a reply yet
Ever since Dr Bidyut Chakrabarty took over as the Vice-Chancellor of Visva-Bharati University in 2018, he has been under immense criticism from the students, staff and a section of the intelligentsia. He has been accused of trying to intimidate the faculty and staff with a series of show-cause notices and suspension. The varsity administration has now been accused of locking up rooms of a few suspended professors. But then how does it matter if they are suspended and aren't allowed to come to the university anyway? Well, it does because they share their offices with other professors and their PhD students use the equipment for their research.
Dr Pijush Kanti Ghosh was suspended in February and his room has been locked since August. The issue is that he has two PhD students who have active fellowships and they need to use his computer and equipment in that room for their research. Moreover, he shares the room with Dr Tapas Kumar Kundu, another professor in the Physics department. "Both my students have been awarded fellowships for their research and there is a stipulated time within which they need to complete the projects. They need to use the computer in that room because it has heavy-duty software that is instrumental to their research. First, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted their work and now that things are normalising a bit, the room being locked has become an impediment," said Dr Ghosh.
The professor wrote to the Registrar of the varsity on October 8 to open his room at least for the others but had not received a reply yet. In his detailed letter, he also mentioned that he is working on a project funded by the Science & Engineering Research Board (SERB) and the room being locked along with the suspension is becoming a problem because he cannot process any file nor can he utilise the budget. "It may be noted that the university agreed in principle to provide basic facilities to my PhD students at the time of forwarding their applications for fellowships to funding agencies as well as forwarding my application for a project grant to the SERB," he wrote. "If no solution is provided by the university to the problems described above on an emergent basis, I may have to report to the respective funding agencies or appropriate organisations explaining the situation which has prevented us from continuing our research activities without any hindrance," he added.
Another senior professor of the same department, Dr Arani Chakravarti, who was suspended along with Dr Ghosh for allegedly falsely accusing the VC of confinement of a colleague and filing an FIR against him, has also met with a similar fate — his room too was locked. Reportedly, Dr Chakravarti's room is a workshop with many pieces of equipment that needs regular maintenance. Not only are the students and researchers not being able to use the workshop, but the equipment also might not work properly if left unattended, said the faculty.
Dr Ghosh said that they are discussing legal steps and are waiting for the enquiry committee's verdict as well. But the professors did not sound too hopeful of a verdict favouring them.