Intellectuals from various fields participated in a protest on Sunday to express their support for Nobel laureate Amartya Sen in the dispute over the “illegal” possession of land in Visva-Bharati by his family, and denounced the “dictatorial and autocratic” conduct of the central university towards him.
Poets Joy Goswami and Subodh Sarkar, singer Kabir Suman, painters Jogen Chowdhury and Suvaprasanna, theater personality turned minister Bratya Basu and others gathered on the grounds of the Academy of Fine Arts here to speak out on the subject. .
They were holding banners that read “I will not accept BJP’s insult to Bengalis”, “Insult to Amartya Sen is an insult to Bengalis”.
Visva-Bharati recently wrote to the West Bengal government alleging that dozens of parcels of land he owned were wrongly registered in the name of private parties, including the senator. The economist said that all the land he occupied on campus was registered in a long-term lease that was not close to expiring.
“I protest for the dictatorial and autocratic behavior of Visva-Bharati with a personality like Amartya Sen. We are here to register our protest and opposition to the treatment inflicted on Sen and to express our solidarity with him, Goswami said.
Visva-Bharati’s vice chancellor was appointed by the BJP-led government at the Center, which is targeting Sen, as he had never been afraid to express his views, Suman alleged.
Basu said: “The BJP has always opposed freethinkers. We have gathered here to express our protest. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has already pledged her solidarity with Amartya Sen. “Banerjee, also supreme of the Trinamool Congress, had claimed that the world-renowned economist has come under such attack by the current university authorities because of his anti-BJP ideological stance.
The US-based economist, an icon of Bengali achievements on the world stage, has often been critical of the economic policies of the Narendra Modi government.
Reacting to the protests, BJP State Chairman Dilip Ghosh said: “Those intellectuals should be aware that the Trinamool Congress is rapidly losing the support of the people of the state. They must remember that the TMC uses intellectuals only when it faces imminent defeat. “In an event held on a different topic, CPI (M) top leader and Left Front president Biman Bose said the way Sen being treated by the Visva-Bharati authorities is most regrettable.
He said that the West Bengal government should hold talks with university authorities to stop them treating the economist in this way.
Sen was born in 1933 in Santiniketan, home to Visva-Bharati, the university founded by Rabindranath Tagore, another Nobel laureate, and a Bengali icon.
Visva-Bharati authorities had never complained to him or his family about any irregularities in land tenure, the economist said in a statement on the land dispute on Friday.