What began as a row over Visva Bharati University’s allegation that Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen had illegally occupied land has now turned into a full-blown political battle, with the university issuing a statement against West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
In a press statement, the university said, “Visva Bharati is a central university. We are better off without your blessings because we are used to the margdarshan (guidance) of the Prime Minister.”
The statement was signed by Visva-Bharati spokesperson Mahua Banerjee.
Earlier, the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, had hit out at the university for accusing Nobel laureate Amartya Sen of illegally occupying land. Mamata Banerjee handed over state government records showing that that land was indeed given to Amartya Sen’s father Ashutosh Sen and there was no illegal occupation as alleged by the university.
“I want to tell the truth based on information and that’s why I have rushed here. You can say, for the disrespect meted out to him, I am handing over these papers to Respected Amartya Sen. In the future, the BJP should not try to disrespect him like this and some pro-BJP saffronised personalities also should not do this is what I have to say,” the Chief Minister told reporters after meeting the Nobel Laureate.
Mamata Banerjee said Vishva-Bharati University should focus on running the university and not target students to indulge in saffronisation, without naming the Vice-Chancellor who claims he did not mean to disrespect Amartya Sen while questioning his Nobel Prize. Mamata Banerjee had also met protesting students of Visva-Bharati University assuring them of all help to end the campus unrest.
“We all have a responsibility to protest and save Visva-Bharati. Rabindranath Tagore’s ideas of education in the open amongst nature. If someone thinks they can saffronise students, professors by use of force, then remember that even if no one stands by them, I am with them,” she said.
Mamata Banerjee also asked the university to apologise to Amartya Sen.
Earlier, Bidyut Chakrabarty, Vice-Chancellor of Vishva Bharati University had told reporters, “We have handed over a letter to him and our allegation is that the land that was allotted to him according to the land deed is 1.25 acres but he claims1.38 acres.
The BJP says Amartya Sen should not get involved in this kind of controversy. BJP National General Secretary Dilip Ghosh told reporters, “Amartya Sen is an icon to many people and he should not get involved in this kind of controversy. If there is any truth in this, he should himself come forward and declare it.”