West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in conversation with Nobel laureate Amartya Sen at Bolpur in Birbhum on January 30, 2023. , Photo Credit: ANI
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday intervened in the ongoing dispute between Amartya Sen and Visva Bharati University and criticized the university authorities for “insulting” the Nobel laureate. The Chief Minister, who reached Professor Sen’s residence in Santiniketan, handed over the documents related to the land on which his house ‘Pratichi’ is built.
On January 24, the Visva Bharati University administration had sent a letter to Professor Sen, stating that he was in possession of 0.13 decimals more land taken on lease by his forefathers. Handing over the land documents to the Arthashastra in the presence of senior district officials, the Chief Minister said these records show that Professor Sen’s claim of having 1.38 acres of land is correct and the university authorities claim that the land He should have 1.25 acres of land, it was false. The Chief Minister said that he had obtained information from the Land Records Department and emphasized that nothing could be more authentic than those records.
Why is the person whose feet we want to touch being insulted? Ms. Banerjee said. He told Professor Sen that the way the Visva Bharati University officials “addressed him” has pained everyone in the state.
The Chief Minister also directed the officials to provide Z-category security to the economist. The 89-year-old economist had said that he was irked by the attitude of the Visva Bharati University authorities to send letters to him to return the land and questioned the mindset of the authorities.
Ms Banerjee came down heavily on the Visva Bharati University officials and alleged that attempts were being made to “saffronize” the central university. She said, “I respect Visva Bharati, but the institute, instead of working for the students, is threatening and suspending students and trying to saffronize the institute.” The Chief Minister, who came on a three-day tour of the districts, said that she would also hold discussions with the students and residents of Visva Bharati University. The chief minister said she would appeal to the Union education minister to look into the “disgusting, appalling attitude” of the university authorities.
This is not the first time that the authorities of Visva Bharati University have targeted Professor Sen. In 2020, the university administration had named Professor Sen in the list of encroachers of university land. Ms Banerjee had even then sent a letter in support of the Nobel laureate. Professor Sen had then described the allegations as “politically motivated”.