In an open letter to vice-chancellor Girish Chandra Tripathi, several ex-students* of the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) have strongly protested against the recent dismissal of Gandhian scholar Prof Sandeep Pandey from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-BHU. Text of the letter:
We, the ex-students of Banaras Hindu University, and other concerned citizens, are writing to you to express our deep worry about removal of visiting professor Sandeep Pandey allegedly for his “anti-national activities”. He had been teaching a few branches of chemical engineering and a development studies course at the Indian Institute of Technology-BHU for two-and-a half years. Prof. Pandey is also a renowned social activist and a Magsaysay award winner.
We are worried about the future of university where sitting at a protest with 40 contract employees whose living is in danger, attending activists meet, joining Citizens Defence Committee to save life of an innocent person, talking about social and gender equality, resisting giant multi-national companies to save natural resources for local community is defined as ‘anti-national activities’. We are concerned about the kind of nationalism the committee (who decided to remove Sandeep Pandey) advocates. It is deeply disturbing the way the university is subscribing a brand of ideology and suppressing all dissident voices. A university should facilitate a learning environment where different streams of thought evolve and get nourished which will strengthen democracy and lead to the country to make egalitarian society based on scientific temper.
We see it as continuation of fascist attack on education system of country by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its sister organizations which are rooted in Brahmanical patriarchal ideology. From last one and half year, this intervention has been intensified leading to appointment of RSS ideologues as heads of country’s leading institutions and various anti-student decisions including the scrapping of Non-Net fellowship. Rationalists are being killed and killers are roaming free. Innocent people are being lynched on rumours by self proclaimed protectors of mother cow. More than 50 renowned writers, filmmakers, scientists, and artists have returned their prestigious state awards protesting increasing intolerance in the country. Heroic struggle of FTII students, ongoing OCCUPY UGC movement, and PINJRA TOD movement gives hope in such dark times when our democracy, plurality, and communal harmony are in danger.
We condemn the brutal suppression of democratic voice of students by BHU administration and its surrender to a particular brand of ideology. We demand the reinstatement of Professor Sandeep Pandey as a visting professor in the university and stop suppressing dissident voices in campus.
*Signatories include Lalit Shukla, Anand Singh, Abhinaw Alok, Subhradeep Mistry, Bal Krishnan, Rahul Sharma,Kaustav Chakraborty, Vishal Vikram Singh, Shvaita Kaul, Shailendr Kumar Shukla, Ujjwal Bhattacharya, Satyam Varma, Saurabh Agarwal, Birendra Kumar, Kuldeep Nagar, Vipul Kumar Jha, Asmurari Nandan Mishra, Saummay Bagga, Prabhat Yadav, Pratul Singhal , Vishnu Kumar Agrahari, Arunabh Saurabh, and Subhash Gatade. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org