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Don’t know why Visva-Bharati is trying to oust me from Santiniketan: Amartya Sen

Nobel laureate says he did not understand “the politics” behind the move

January 26, 2023 05:32 am | Updated 05:32 am IST - Kolkata

Lashing out at the Visva-Bharati for asking him to hand over parts of a plot he was allegedly occupying “unauthorisedly” at Santiniketan, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen on Wednesday said he did not understand why the central university suddenly had become "so active" in trying to drive him out of that place.

A day after getting a letter from the varsity in this regard, he said he did not understand “the politics” behind the move.

The noted economist asserted that most of the land he is holding on the Santiniketan campus was purchased from the market by his father while some other plots were taken on lease.

"I could not see any subtlety in their [university authorities]) thinking. There is confusion in their mind and I do not know what to say. I also do not understand the politics behind this attitude of Visva-Bharati university," Mr. Sen told PTI.

‘Very much irritated’

Stating that he was "very much irritated" by the matter, the economist said if the varsity thinks that the land belongs to it, the authorities should move court and he would give his reply there.

"This is my residence which was built on leased land from Visva-Bharati in the 1940s. The land was leased out to us for 100 years. Some of the land was also bought by my father from the market following all rules and regulations. There was no danger of overstaying," he said.

The economist, who lives in the USA, said the plots were purchased from the Zamindars of nearby Surul and the necessary documents regarding the deal were submitted to the government authorities.

"I do not see any reason to waste my time on this matter. It's very difficult to understand why Visva-Bharati has suddenly become active in trying to drive me out," said Mr. Sen who is currently in Santiniketan.

Visva-Bharati on Tuesday asked Mr. Sen to hand over parts of a plot of land in Santiniketan, claiming that he has been occupying the portion in an unauthorised manner.

A letter signed by the Deputy Registrar of the university to Mr. Sen said, "It has been found from records and physical survey/demarcation that you are in unauthorised occupation of 13 decimals of land belonging to Visva-Bharati...".

There have been allegations from certain quarters that the university’s actions may be politically motivated given the fact that Mr. Sen has been critical of many Central government policies.

In a recent interview with PTI, the 90-year-old economist had said, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has the ability to be the Prime Minister but it has not yet been established that she "can pull the forces of public dismay against the BJP in an integrated way to make it possible for her to have the leadership to put an end to the fractionalisation in India." In January 2021, Visva-Bharati Vice-Chancellor Bidyut Chakraborty had accused Mr. Sen's family of being in illegal possession of land on the campus.

The university had also asked the West Bengal government to measure the plot owned by Mr. Sen at Santiniketan as soon as possible to permanently resolve the dispute.

In reaction, the economist had written to the varsity demanding that it withdraw the allegation and claimed that the accusations are a crude attempt at harassment.

Earlier that year, Mr. Sen had sent a legal notice to the V-C asking him to withdraw the "false" allegation.

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