Press Trust of india

Rally proposed over Amartya Sen land issue; Visva-Bharati apprehensive of violence

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Kolkata: Apprehending violence during a proposed rally organised by “some intellectuals” before the ancestral house of Nobel laureate Amartya Sen in Santiniketan on Friday, the Visva-Bharati university has requested the local district administration to check that there is no “breach of peace” on the campus.

The central university has issued an eviction notice to the economist accusing him of illegally occupying 0.13 acres of land on the campus. The Calcutta High Court, however, put an interim stay against that order earlier in the day.

Visva-Bharati spokesperson Mahua Banerjee told PTI that the institute has sent a letter to the Sub-Divisional Officer of Bolpur in West Bengal’s Birbhum district stating that no permission had been sought from the university for taking out a march on May 5 on the Amartya Sen land issue.

The varsity authorities said they have come to know that the rally will culminate before ‘Pratichi’, the ancestral house of Sen, which falls within or is contiguous to the campus area.

“There are many sensitive installations of Visva-Bharati” such as the Upasana Griha (prayer room), Chhatimtala, Uttarayana complex and boy’s and girls’ hostels “on both sides of Santiniketan-Sriniketan PWD Road” which will be taken by the rallyists, Acting Registrar M Saha said in the letter.

While Chhatimtala is a garden where once a Chhatim tree used to stand, under which Maharishi Debendranath Tagore, father of the bard, used to meditate, Uttarayana complex has five houses that serve as a museum.

“This is to inform you that a procession is planned to be held in front of Pratichi in support of Sri Amartya Kumar Sen on May 5, Visva-Bharati is apprehending breach of peace and tranquillity in the university campus due to such agitation,” the letter read.

Pointing out the matter is sub-judice, the university requested the SDO to take steps to prevent any agitation in and around the Visva Bharati campus.

Banerjee said she has no further comments to make on the issue.

In another letter to the officer-in-charge of Santiniketan police station, the acting registrar claimed that some derogatory and life-threatening leaflets and messages are being circulated on the campus against Vice Chancellor Bidyut Chakraborty and some university officials.

“We apprehend that some agitators, miscreants, outsiders may create problems and resort to violent activities in the campus in general and particularly in the heritage and academic buildings… Therefore, I would like to request you to please take adequate steps as per law to prevent any such untoward situation,” the letter said.

Visva-Bharati had sent an eviction notice to Sen on April 19, asking him to vacate 13 decimal of the 1.38 acres of land of his residence within May 6. The high court has put a stay on that order and an appeal for a stay on possible eviction was fixed for hearing on May 15, 2023, at a court in the district.


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