Don’t speak to media, Visva-Bharati orders staff

‘Anything to be expressed should be routed through spokesman’

February 01, 2020 01:37 am | Updated 01:37 am IST - Kolkata

Left-wing students shouting slogans while gheraoing Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta.

Left-wing students shouting slogans while gheraoing Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta.

Visva-Bharati University has issued an order prohibiting its staff from speaking to the media “until further order”, saying anything they want to express publicly should be routed through Assistant Registrar Anirban Sircar, who is the university’s spokesman as well as ‘Social Media Champion’.

“To seek the public limelight and self-importance through media for oneself is unworthy of any teacher or employee of Visva-Bharati. Visva-Bharati itself seeks no publicity,” a notification issued on Thursday said.

“No staff members of the university other than the Social Media Champion and the spokesperson shall make any statement/views on the matters pertaining to the university to the press personnel of electronic/print media without prior permission of the competent authority of the university as per Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964,” it said.

“In case of violation, the competent authority of the university may take appropriate action,” the notification warned.

Visva-Bharati, in the recent weeks, has been in the news for all the wrong reasons and this notification is an attempt at preventing further damage. The university has of late seen noisy protests organised by the Left-wing student leaders, who feel emboldened by the countrywide protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the mob attack in JNU.

BJP ideologue

In early January, protesting students had locked up BJP ideologue Swapan Dasgupta after he delivered a lecture on the CAA. This was followed by an attack on the Left-wing students, some of who were injured. And more recently, when Vice-Chancellor Bidyut Chakrabarty questioned the sacredness of the Preamble of the Constitution during a Republic Day speech and his remarks were widely publicised, a student who had recorded his speech was overnight evicted from the hostel. Such unsavoury incidents are usually unheard of on the campus.

How far the gag order will serve its purpose remains to be seen as a teachers’ union is all set to challenge it in court.

“The order is clearly against the statutes of Visva-Bharati. The Rules referred to in this order is applicable only to direct government employees. Since the university is an autonomous body, those rules are not applicable here,” said Sudipta Bhattacharyya, president of the Visva-Bharati University Faculty Association.

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