Saturday, February 06, 2016

High Court questions Banaras varsity decision to prematurely terminate Magsasay award winning academic

By Our Representative
The Allahabad High Court has asked the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Banaras Hindu University (BHU), to explain its controversial decision to prematurely terminate top Gandhian academic and Magsaysay award winner Dr Sandeep Pandey on January 6, 2016. He got the award, called Asian Nobel Prize, in 2002 the emerging leadership category for his grassroots work, taking up human rights issues.
The decision by the IIT-BHU Board of Governors (BoG) had drawn widespread condemnation across the country, and was seen to be not just arbitrary but manifestation of the machinations of the RSS' sway on the everyday functioning of the Ministry for Human Resources Development (MHRD).
Pandey was reportedly called 'anti-national', without providing any opportunity for him to be heard, or giving him a chance to respond or explain. The BoG took cognisance of a complaint by a final year MA political science student, who reportedly never attended classes, allegedly without taking pains to verify the correctness of the allegations leveled against Pandey.
In an statement soon after the termination, Pandey said, “The charges levelled against me are that I am a Naxalite, showed a banned documentary on Nirbhaya case and am also involved in anti-national activities.” He clarified, I'm not a Naxalite. The ideology that I would consider myself closest to is Gandhian.”
At the same time, Pandey said, “I do identify with the causes taken up by Naxalites even though I may not agree with their methods”, adding, “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to be screened in my development studies class during the even semester of academic year 2014-15 but the decision was withdrawn after intervention of the chief proctor.”
“However”, Pandey added, “A discussion on the issue of violence against women in our society was conducted after screening a different documentary.” As for the charge that he is anti-national, he said, “I do not believe in the idea of a nation or national boundaries. Hence, I cannot be anti or pro-nation. I am pro-people.”
Pandey, who served as visiting faculty in the Department of Chemical Engineering, IIT-BHU, challenged the termination in the writ petition he filed soon after he was handed over the termination order. The matter was taken up by the High Court at Allahabad on February 5, 2016.
Dr Pandey in his petition argued that his removal was an “open abuse” of power on ideological and non-academic grounds and it had its “roots somewhere else”. He added, Vice Chancellor Prof GC Tripathi was “appointed as the Chairman of IIT BoG by the Ministry of HRD, Government of India, bypassing the panel of five names recommended by a BoG resolution.
Referring to the fact that Tripathi, and Dean of Faculty Affairs, IIT-BHU, Prof Dhananjay Pandey, known to be associated with the RSS, who “forced” the decision, Pandy said, there was "no academic consideration in the decision to termininate him, and it was driven by “conflict of ideologies”, hence poses a “threat to the fundamental freedoms granted in the Indian Constitution.”
Pandey said, the decision of the BoG at the instance of the chairman was “a step further to saffronisation of IIT-BHU, and in a “democratic state such an attempt which is aimed at suppressing the ideologies is required to be nipped in bud as otherwise it will have serious effects.”

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