VBU anthropology department harassment row: Students launch second hunger strike

The students staged a strike from 9 am to 1 pm and after the strike, they released an 11-point notice highlighting their concerns
A picture of students on strike on October 17
A picture of students on strike on October 17

The students from the Department of Anthropology at Visva-Bharati University (VBU) launched another hunger strike today, October 17 from 9 am to 1 pm demanding action from the university regarding their complaints of caste and gender discrimination against Dr Ghosh. Speaking to EdexLive, a student who wanted to be anonymous said, "Four students from Anthropology and three students from the education department jointly stood for the protest." To recall, six students had already staged a hunger strike on August 21. 

Additionally, the students have also written representations to President Dourpadi Murmu, Governor of West Bengal CV Ananda Bose and West Bengal Commission for Women and the National Commission for Women Leena Gangopadhyay. Despite their responses asking the university to act, the university remains indifferent, alleging students. 

Issuing a press release after the strike, the students highlighted their concerns and said if anything happens, the institute should be held responsible. The points mentioned in the release are:

1. "For more than a year we have been requesting the university administration to act on our complaints. We have submitted nearly 30 letters with all proofs for the university administration. They are being indifferent to our complaints and our sufferings. We have been scared for our lives and careers."

2. "One of the complainants also raised the issue that her maternity leave was not processed and Dr Arnab Ghosh silently tried to fire her from her PhD."

3. "As the university never acted on any of the complaints against him in the past, he had become a serial predator in harassing especially female students by various means. Which we brought to the notice of the university."

4. "As a last option we sat for a hunger strike on 21.08.2023. We also informed through our protest that we will be reaching out to other competent authorities."

5. "We wrote to the president of India, the governor and the West Bengal Women's commission. They have acknowledged our letters and asked the university to act on our complaints. Even after that university is not acting on our complaints."

6. "We just can't understand why will a public university ignore the letters from the president of India, the governor and women's commission? If not trying to save Dr. Arnab Ghosh."

7. "The university also keeps on referring to us as Parivar. Is this how a family treats their girls? When we are harassed and when we need justice will the family turn a blind eye?"

8. "As part of Visva-Bharati Parivar we believe our Santiniketan got its world heritage site status not for only the buildings but for what Tagore believed as what should be the education. Tagore wanted the students to have an education where they would be happy and safe and learn in a fearless manner. Tagore through his writings always emphasized the sufferings of women in Indian Society. It is sad that girls had to protest in the Gurudev university for justice and not to further harass us."

9. "We are also scared for life; we have been intimidated on a daily basis. Dr. Arnab Ghosh is using various ways to threaten us that he will ensure that he will take revenge on us for complaining against him.

10. "If something happens to us, or our families the university should take accountability."

11. "We urge the university to act on our complaints and send action-taken reports to the president of India, the women's commission and the governor. We want the Visva-Bharati to be a safe space for all the girl students"  

Faculty Association extends support

Taking to X (formerly known as Twitter), the VBU faculty association said, "The girls again sat on a Hunger Strike today near the Upasana Griha. We demand speedy investigation of the cases of sexual harassment. This seems unlikely till Mr. Bidyut Chakrabarty, a sexual offender himself, remains the VC.
@rashtrapatibhvn @EduMinOfIndia @PMOIndia @dpradhanbjp"

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