After the Trinamool Congress, the Congress leadership has put its weight behind Nobel laureate Amartya Sen who is embroiled in a public tussle with Visva-Bharati University (VBU) over the ownership of a portion of the land on which his ancestral house ‘Pratichi’ stands at Santiniketan.
Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh on social media on Thursday wrote against the ‘targeting of Prof Sen”. “That the PM will harass and intimidate anyone who is his stern critic is well-known. But his targeting of Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen who was also awarded the Bharat Ratna by Mr. Vajpayee is pathetic,” Mr. Ramesh had tweeted. Earlier, Congress leader and West Bengal Pradesh Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury had targeted the BJP for “insulting Bengal’s pride Amartya Sen”.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had also come out openly in support of Prof. Sen. Ms. Banerjee in January this year met the economist at his Santiniketan residence and handed over land documents to him. Earlier, on April 19, the VBU administration issued an order asking Prof. Sen to vacate within 15 days the 13 decimals of land, which according to it is under the “illegal occupation” of the Nobel laureate. The six-page notice also added that in the event of “refusal or failure to comply with this order within the period specified”, Prof. Sen “and all persons concerned” are “liable to be evicted from the said premises, if need be, by use of such force as may be necessary”.
On April 17, Prof. Sen sent a letter to VBU authorities that the land has been in possession of his family since 1943.
“We have seen a statement issued by some parts of the Visva-Bharati about my ancestral home at Pratichi, Santiniketan, which has been in the possession and regular use of my family since 1943. I am the holder of the land, and it was passed on to me after the death of my parents Ashutosh Sen and Amita Sen. They also purchased other land in close proximity to the leased land,” the letter by Prof. Sen said.
On April 14, the University had pasted a notice on ‘Pratichi’ despite an order by the Executive Magistrate in Birbhum directing officers of Santiniketan Police Station to maintain peace and tranquility in the area and the plot until the disposal of a related case by the court. Prof. Sen is in the U.S. and will return to Santiniketan in June.
Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Chowdhury said that the BJP was targeting Prof. Sen for political reasons. “He is an ideological adversary and that is the reason he is being harassed by the BJP,” he said.