Bengal Intellectuals Back Amartya Sen Over Visva Bharati Row

Kolkata: A group of intellectuals backed by the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) here on Sunday staged a protest in support of Nobel laureate Amartya Sen after Visva Bharati University (VBU) named him in its list of illegal occupants on the campus.

The protest programme convened by theatre personality and West Bengal Minister for Science and Technology Bratya Basu, was held in front of the premises of Kolkata’s Academy of Fine Arts.

According to reports, the Visva Bharati University said there is an unauthorised occupation of 13 decimals of land, in addition to 125 decimals legally leased to Amartya Sen’s late father by the varsity authorities.

“The crime of Amartya Sen is that he has raised voice against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). If the saffron party comes to power in Bengal, the common people will suffer. They cannot respect people like Sen, who is a renowned academician and a Nobel laureate too,” said Bratya Basu.

The protest event was attended by noted Bengali poet Joy Goswami, Subodh Sarkar, painter Jogen Chowdhury, artist Shuvaprasanna, filmmaker Arindam Sil, singer Soumitra Roy, among others. Supporters with TMC flags were seen taking part in the event. But no top Trinamool leader, besides Basu, was seen at the event.

Earlier, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had written a letter to Sen after Visva Bharati University, a central varsity, named him in its list of illegal occupants on the campus. Mamata also expressed solidarity with the Nobel laureate for his deep ancestral roots in Santiniketan.

Visva Bharati University was established by Rabindranath Tagore in 1921. In May 1951, it was declared a Central university and an institution of national importance by an Act of Parliament.

“The varsity authorities could not save the Nobel Prize of Tagore. They can’t honour intellectuals like Amartya Sen as well. As Bengalis, we are feeling really ashamed,” said artist Shuvaprasanna.