The show of solidarity by Kirori Mal College teachers for their suspended principal has now spiralled into a full-fledged protest for teachers’ rights -- with the staff association along with their colleagues from other colleges staging a dharna on Monday for demands far removed from that of their initial agitation.
“We want the Delhi University to take back their show-cause notice, take back their assertion that our casual leave amounts to break in service and also stop infringing on our rights to protest peacefully,” said KMC staff association secretary Rudrashish Chakraborty, adding that the issue was no longer just about Dr. Bhim Sen Singh, their principal who was suspended last Wednesday for accusing the governing council chairman of corruption and for publically insinuating that the University Registrar was of unsound mind.
“It is no longer about an individual. We are agitating against the University trampling on teachers’ rights, issuing show-cause notices to individuals and thereby trying to intimidate teachers to prevent them from protesting peacefully,” said Professor Chakraborty, adding that they did not approve of the procedural lapses made by the University while suspending Dr. Sen and the way the suspension order was worded but were now carrying on their agitation for their own rights and not to re-instate Dr. Sen.
“We will continue to appeal to all the other staff associations that it could be them that are targeted for the University next time,” he said, comparing the situation to the emergency era. “It is like the emergency era when any dissent is being curbed by the university using extreme measures,” he added.
His sentiments were echoed by some other university teachers who said that they were concerned about the interference of the university in college decisions and the alarming trend of promotion interviews of teachers happening in the Vice-Regal Lodge which most teachers had reported as intimidating. The Delhi University Teachers’ Association, however, which has a long standing complaint that the university officials refuse to meet them, said despite a meeting that lasted several hours a concrete decision to support their KMC colleagues had not been arrived at though many members had shown support personally.
“There was, however, unanimous criticism of the way the university dealt with the KMC staff association by serving show-cause notices to individual staff members and threatening teachers with break in service if they took casual leave,” said DUTA member Abha Dev Habib.