In a strong show of solidarity, over 500 academicians from across the world have come forward to condemn the suspension of four teachers at the South Asian University (SAU). In an appeal to foreign ministers of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the academics have called for their intervention in the matter. The object of the request is to address the issue and ensure justice for the affected teachers in SAU.
They have urged the ministers to “intervene in this regard and immediately revoke the unreasonable and arbitrary suspension orders from the SAU administration and establish a conducive academic atmosphere in the university.”
On June 16, 2023 The South Asian University (SAU) suspended four faculty members on the grounds of alleged misconduct. However, the specific nature of the alleged misconduct was not specified in the suspension orders. The four faculty members suspended are Snehasish Bhattacharya from the Faculty of Economics, Srinivas Bura from the Faculty of Legal Studies, Irfanullah Farooqi from the Department of Sociology, Faculty of Social Sciences, and Ravi Kumar from the Department of Sociology, Faculty of Social Sciences.
It may be noted that the suspended faculty members had earlier received show cause notices on December 30, 2022. Show cause notices were issued to them as a result of their emails to the university community, in which they expressed concern and questioned the perceived lack of empathy in the handling of two major issues by the SAU administration. These issues included protests by students over a cut in their monthly stipend and sexual harassment and demand for proper representation in gender sensitization committees.
The letter states that: “The administration called the police to disperse the students who were exercising their democratic right to protest. The suspended professors had registered their concerns about the police being called to the campus to intervene against the students and the retaliatory steps taken by the administrators against the protesting students. The professors were urging the university to address the concerns of the students and adopt a constructive approach to resolve the disputes.
“Ultimately, the goal of any educational institution is to create an environment that protects the welfare of students while upholding the principles of justice, fairness, and respect for the rights of faculty members.” stated in the letter.
The arbitrary and callous disregard with which the administrators have taken action against the professors is in violation of the norms of accountability, transparency, integrity and stability of educational institutions. This would undermine a vibrant and productive academic community and could erode the trust and academic character of the university,” the letter further reads.
The letter has been signed by eminent global scholars and intellectuals such as Akil Bilgrami, Amit Bhaduri, Anu Muhammad, Anupama Rao, Kostas Lapavitsas, David Rukio, Gyan Prakash, Irfan Habib, Jaydev Uyangoda, Jayati Ghosh, Kevin Anderson, Mukul Kesavan, Nancy Folbre . , Partha Chatterjee, Prabhat Patnaik, Satish Deshpande, Sheldon Pollock, SD Muni, Tony Anghi, Zoya Hassan, and others.
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