Visva-Bharati professor, accused of casteist slur, files harassment complaint against student

Somnath Sow, one of the expelled students, said that Manipuri dance professor Basu called him Dalit. Basu also said Sow abused him.

Visva-Bharati professor, accused of casteist slur, files harassment complaint against student Visva Bharati student teacher cross swords
Press Trust of India | Sep 17, 2021 - 9:39 p.m. IST
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KOLKATA: A professor of the Visva-Bharati on Friday filed a police complaint alleging harassment by one of the three pupils expelled by the varsity after the student, who has now been granted relief by the Calcutta High Court, accused him of hurling casteist slurs.

Somnath Sow, the student, alleged that he came across professor Sumit Basu at a tea stall in Shyambati area of Santiniketan in the morning. It was at that time, Basu "called me a Dalit and said he do not want to talk to me", Sow alleged. Sow said that he has filed a complaint at the Santiniketan police station over the matter.

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Basu, a teacher of Manipuri dance at Sangit Bhavana, also filed a complaint with the police alleging that Sow, an SFI leader, abused and heckled him. In his complaint, Basu claimed that when he was returning home, he was stopped by Sow who was on his motorcycle, following which he was heckled and abused. A varsity official denied that Basu had made any racist comment against Sow. Instead, Sow made provocative comments against the professor mocking his closeness with vice-chancellor Bidyut Chakraborty, the official claimed.

"Sow also dared him to take any action and continued to argue with him," he alleged. A police officer confirmed that two complaints were filed but refused to divulge any details. The campus was on the boil since the last week of August as the varsity rusticated Sow and two other students for "disorderly conduct".

On Wednesday, the high court set aside the rustication order, bringing back normalcy to the central varsity. Meanwhile, the varsity sent a notice to professor Sudipto Bhattacharya, who took part in the protest against the rustication of the students and was present in the sit-in near the residence of the vice-chancellor last week.

The notice, signed by the officiating registrar, stated, "You are reported to have instigated a group of students while they were agitating near the residence of the Vice Chancellor to undertake vandalism, seize the residence of the Vice Chancellor, disrupt the normal activities of the university and other unlawful activities."

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Bhattacharya, an office-bearer of the Visva-Bharati University Faculty Association, was asked to reply within three days. Terming the notice undemocratic, the professor at the Department of Economics and Politics said, "The allegations raised against me are baseless. I will reply within the given time."

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