Forum writes to Governor complaining of political interference, lack of autonomy

Over 400 past and present teachers from colleges and universities across West Bengal have written to Governor M.K. Narayanan saying that the government was reneging on its promise of freeing the State’s educational institutions from political interference.

In a letter to Mr. Narayanan, the Democratic Teachers for Autonomy and Academic Freedom (DTAAF) raised questions about the Trinamool’s attempt to control appointments in educational institutions. The DTAAF is an apolitical pressure group demanding the freeing of academic institutions from political control.

Referring to the West Bengal University Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2012, passed by the Assembly earlier this year, the DTAAF said: “[The Bill] provides for amendment of the provisions for selection procedure of Vice Chancellors and Deans, by dint of which the government, in effect, keeps its options open to appoint its ‘yes men’ [to] these key university posts.”

“The governing bodies of more than 40 colleges are headed by Trinamool Congress MPs, MLAs and Ministers, while people owing allegiance to the party [have] been appointed as [chairpersons] of various autonomous [commissions] in the department,” DTAAF convenor Tarun Naskar said. Charging that the attacks on teachers and principals were continuing unabated, Professor Naskar said that those involved in the violence were members of the student wings of political parties.

The DTAAF representatives said they were planning a signature campaign. The teachers have sought an appointment with Governor Narayanan after the Durga Puja festival to present their views in detail.

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