JAMMU : Missive dashed by an academician of Jammu University to end on going strike has evoked sharp criticism from teaching fraternity who are protesting since Sep 9, 2022 for CBI inquiry into mysterious death of Prof. Chandra Shekhar as well as removal of all those ganged up for issuance of suspension order in haste sans due process of law.
“Letter by Prof. Deepankar Sen Gupta imploring JUTA President to end strike not only appears meaningless and directionless but also shows his carefree attitude towards tragic death of our colleague inside the premises of Psychology department on September 8”, angrily said a lady professor of JU. This letter is nothing more than a Trojan Horse which deserve devastation, she added.
Here we are of the considered opinion that Prof Sen’s communication has been debunked by JUTA President Prof. Pankaj Srivastava to set the record straight. We are reproduing the reply of JUTA President in verbatum for the readers to draw their own conclusions for ensuring justice and fair play to deceased Prof. Chandra Shekhar and his immediate family.
Dear Prof Dipankar Sengupta, Ref: Your letter dated 24.09.2023
Being an esteemed member of JUTA, you could have exercised your right of expressing your views in the special GBM or on the site of Protest, but the mode of your communication in the form of an open letter is intriguing. I have gone through your thoughts conveyed through a letter dated 24/9/2023 (I take date as a typographical error), received through WhatsApp and email, to call off the strike, at a time when the University is shaken not only by the demise of one teacher of Psychology Department but the way whole issue has been dealt by the University Administration.
In this connection I wish to state that since you have chosen to be away from the strike, Special GBM and also defied the JUTA appeal to not give examination duty in JUET, many of your observations are based on hearsay. Your letter has also been leaked to the News Paper which has also pained me in same manner as the Administration has been publishing Appeals in News Paper after the Vice Chancellor had made his appeal in front of all the teachers.
I, however, would like to give pointwise reply to your letter:
- In para 1, you justify the call for strike as you write “charges leveled against him (Dr. Chandra Shekhar) did not follow due process” moreover also finds demand of “removal of those responsible” “eminently reasonable demand”. However, by the time you reach para 4 and 5, you try to convince us that due process was indeed followed. If the matter is so simple, then why till date a clear reply has not been given to the association by the administration. Or that reply is only given in not too clear cut terms in private conversations.
- The understanding and interpretation of rules of JUICCASH, DoPT, CSR etc etc by Prof Sengupta in para 4 and 5 is digressive and erroneous. Can you answer specifically that vide which rule Dr. Chandra Shekhar was suspended? Was that mentioned in his suspension letter? If not then why?
The University Teachers have been on the Strike since 9th September 2022 as one of our colleagues, Dr Chandra Shekhar, Associate Professor in Department of Psychology, was found hanged from the fan in his official chamber in office hours in suspicious circumstances, minutes after receiving the suspension order from the Registrar. The suspension order, which was also recovered by police from the pocket of Dr Chandra Shekhar in mortuary, also mentioned that he was suspended based on the JUICCASH opinion. In that letter there is no mention of the any other rule than the JUICCASH, under which the suspension is ordered. So your argument that the University Authority has suspended Dr. Chandra Shekhar under the rule mentioned under the Rule no 16(2) of Chapter 3 of University Calendar Volume- I, has no basis.
Was Chandra Shekhar’s case unique in the history of the University that he was even denied to know under which rule he was being suspended?
We are on strike because we are convinced that once the case is forwarded to JUICCASH, it has to be inquired by the procedure, as mentioned in the Jammu University Internal Complaints Committee Against Sexual Harassment (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Regulation 2017 (Notified vide Estab/18/8086–9085 dated 09/01/2018) and the Interim Redressal be given to the complainant as recommended by the JUICCASH. We are also convinced that the procedure as mentioned in the Regulation has not been followed and the respondent (Dr Chandra) was neither given a copy of complaint within seven working days nor was given a chance to reply.
Any 12 (B) University is governed by UGC regulations coupled with its own rules and statues. The rules of state/UT government or any other agency are evoked only if the rules of the University are silent. But for cases related to sexual harassment, the rules of JUICCASH and UGC exist, then how and why some other rule, if at all, was evoked?
- Even if one agrees that in cases related to sexual harassment the university has the right to suspend any teacher even without revealing the rule under which s/he is being suspended, then, Prof Sengupta, you must also throw light as to how Dr. Chandra Shekhar’s case fell under rarest of the rare case, as till date no one has ever been suspended under JUICCASH on prima facies charges.
- In para 2, line 7, you pointed out that JUICCASH recommendations in the past have not been applied properly. Here, I would like to inform Prof Sengupta that in many cases the functioning of JUICCASH has also not been in consonance with its own rules and has even taken far too long to address. But in case of Dr. Chandra Shekhar they were able to “opine” in flat 3 working days.
- Under JUICCASH rules, any respondent is given 10 days time with a copy of complaints to defend himself. In case of Chandra Shekhar after his death his wife has the right to receive the same. But university administration has till date has not provided her even a copy of suspension letter, let alone other documents. Wife of the deceased is being denied sufficient papers by the university so that she is unable to unravel the truth. Prof Sengupta is completely unaware of the fact that on the date of GBM Ms. Neeta Chandra submitted a letter demanding those documents with a copy to JUTA President, which the university has not provided till date.
- In a three and a half hours long marathon extra ordinary GBM on an unprecedented issue, Prof Sengupta, instead of praising every member of JUTA for conducting it so nicely even when passions were high, neatly chooses to focus on 5-10 minutes of disturbances, that too only of only one individual. Why?
The house gave equal opportunity to each and every member to speak in the special GBM, however when some honorable members spoke out of context, they were objected to by other members present there (which you prefer to call hooting). However, within no time the house came back in order and the President and subsequently other members deliberated the issues in detail. Moreover, you must understand that such disturbances are as much a part of democratic discussion/process as clapping, and therefore your advisory, that too when you were not part of that meeting, are completely uncalled for.
- Though JUTA has not officially leveled the “charges of manipulated complaints, murder etc”, but the unnecessary mention of such words in your letter makes your argument weaker and motivated. 8. Lo and behold, you blame all the teachers of surrendering autonomy when they had to go out to Div.Com. office to get their demand of CBI enquiry forwarded to the Hon’ble LG. It was done only after the University Vice Chancellor refused to forward our demand of CBI enquiry to Hon’ble LG. Not even once you were able to pose a question to the university authorities as to how can university authorities refuse any letter to be forwarded to Hon’ble LG even if it is not to their liking. In fact, it is a dangerous trend of gagging the voices about which you seems to be completely OK.
- If anyone has really moved out of the four walls of the university, it is the university administration, when they started to publish advertisements to communicate with the teachers but you did not notice any red herring then.
- JUTA, from the day one has been pushing for the immediate rehabilitation of Dr Chandra’s wife on compassionate basis, something that can be done at the level of hon’ble Chancellor & LG. However, the process that the administration is following is not bereft of loopholes and possible slippages.
- None of the senior persons from the administration including yourself was present along with the dead body of Dr Chandra Shekhar in GMC or Mortuary when the doctors and police were doing their job and asking many questions to us. The strike was not only about the suspension letter before his death but also about the way whole issue was handled by the administration post his death, which raise suspicion on the intention of the administration. Hence, In my view your understanding of the whole issue seems to be biased. I, however, welcome you to place your views personally to all the teachers on Monday.
Regards Prof. Pankaj Srivastava President