IIT-BHU removes Magsaysay awardee 'Naxal' teacher

Supporters and activists have alleged the hands of RSS hardliners behind the ouster of the professor

GN Bureau | January 8, 2016



IIT-BHU has removed Ramon Magsaysay award winning academician Sandeep Pandey as its visiting professor of Development Studies. University has not made any official announcement on the same. The ouster of the professor is being criticised from all corners. Supporters of the activist professor have alleged the hands of RSS hardliners behind this move.

 
The National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), a grassroot organisation that Pandey leads, has challenged the decision of the university and has demanded an explanation for his removal. “The decision taken by IIT BHU is not only tragic but also shows the social immaturity of right-wing sympathisers who want to crush dissent at all costs. Even if it means raising a whole new generation of young Indians without the guidance of progressive thinkers and dynamic individuals like Dr. Pandey,” it said. Similar voices are coming from various organisations and student groups in Varanasi.
 
Pandey received the notice about his expulsion from the IIT-BHU on January 06. According to him, no reason was cited in the notice for the termination of his services. However, he alleged that the false charges against him include being a Naxalite, screening BBC’s banned documentary on Nirbhaya case and involvement in anti-national activities. He mentioned of the meeting of the Board of Governors held on December 21, he was informed that his services as visiting faculty in the Department of Chemical Engineering stand terminated after the expiry of one month from the date of issue of this order.
 
Meanwhile, here is what Sandeep has to say about his ouster from the IIT:
 
My contract at IIT BHU, Varanasi as a visiting faculty has prematurely ended after teaching there for 2.5 years due to a decision of Board of Governors. In a recent Board meeting the Vice Chancellor of BHU, who was made the Chairman of IIT BoG by Minister of HRD, GoI, bypassing the panel of five names recommended by a resolution of BoG, Prof. G.C. Tripathi, and Dean of Faculty Affairs, IIT, BHU, Prof. Dhananjay Pandey, both gentlemen associated with RSS, primarily forced the decision. The charges against me are that I'm a naxalite, showed a banned documentary on Nirbhaya case and am involved in anti-national activities.

I wish to clarify that I'm not a naxalite. The ideology that I would consider myself closest to is Gandhian. But I do identify with the causes taken up by naxalites even though I may not agree with their methods. I also think that it requires a lot of courage and sacrifice to be a naxalite and I certainly don't have that kind of resolve.
 
The banned documentary on Nirbhaya made by BBC was to be screened in my Development Studies class during the even semester of academic year 2014-15 but the decision was withdrawn after intervention of Chief Proctor of BHU and S.O. of Lanka Police Station just before the class. However, a discussion on the issue of violence against women in our society was conducted after screening a different documentary.
 
I don't believe in the idea of a nation or national boundaries, which I think are responsible for artificial divisions among human beings similar to ones on the basis of caste or religion. Hence I cannot be anti or pro-nation. I am pro-people. I'm not a nationalist but is a Universalist.
I've no regrets as the decision to terminate my contract has not been taken based on my academic performance but it is because of my political views and activities. I've enjoyed my stay at IIT, BHU and wish the Institute and the University well.

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