Authorities remain tight-lipped as IB team visits Ashoka Universitytext_fields
Sonepat, Haryana: Ahead of the August 23 deadline set by the faculty to the varsity administration demanding non-interference in their work and to handle the matter affecting assistant professor Sabyasachi Das, an Intelligence Bureau (IB) team knocked on Ashoka University's doors.
This came about a few days after Das resigned from the institution over an investigation into his research paper, "Democratic Backsliding in the World's Largest Democracy."
A student responded in affirmation about the IB team's visit, but the university officials remained tight-lipped on this. The university is yet to issue an official statement.
Das had resigned from the university earlier this month, after which professor Pulapre Balakrishnan too had stepped down in protest over the acceptance of Das' resignation.
Several departments of the university, including economics, sociology, anthropology and political science, have extended their support to Das, demanding to reinstate him immediately.
Noted astrophysicist and Ashoka University VC Somak Raychaudhury is in constant conversation with the faculty members who have come out in protest. While these internal discussions are ongoing, the IB's involvement adds a new twist to this row and is likely to cause further resentment from academia.
As many as 320 economists from 91 universities across the country too have extended their support to Das, demanding the varsity to immediately reinstate him.
The Department of Economics had expressed its disappointment over the acceptance of Das' resignation and had written an open letter to the governing body of the varsity saying the ‘’hasty’’ acceptance has ruptured their faith.
The faculty members had also demanded that the university must ensure that its governing body does not interfere in their work and urged it to address the issue concerning Das by August 23.
Even Balakrsihana in his resignation letter wrote, "I have resigned from my position based on my belief that there was a grave error of judgment in the response to the attention received by Das’ paper on social media. Academic freedom was violated in the response, and it would be unconscionable for me to remain (in the post)."
He also said that he has news that the governing body has decided to invite Das to return to the post from which he had resigned, and If this is correct, "I appreciate the gesture, if not, I would request you as leaders of this community to consider doing just that".
In his letter to Rudrangshu Mukherjee, Chancellor and professor of history at Ashoka University, and Pramath Raj Sinha, Founder and Trustee of the university, Balakrishnan said, "I write to you as the dust settles at least a bit on the recent turmoil at our university. News is that the governing body has decided to invite young Sabyasachi Das to return to the post from which he had resigned. If this is correct, I appreciate the gesture. If not, I would request you as leaders of this community to consider doing just that."
Faculty members in the university had earlier written a letter to the varsity administration flagging concerns over academic freedom in the institution.
On August 15, in the wake of the resignation of Das and members of faculty writing to him for the formation of a committee for academic freedom, Vice Chancellor Raychaudhary had assured all the members that measures are now being taken to form the committee and they have his full support to create it.
With inputs from IANS