In a new attack against Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, Visva-Bharati University (VBU) officials stated on Sunday that they “deeply deplored mudslinging by individuals aiming to fulfil their vested interests” about illegal possession of land on the university’s campus.
In a press release, the university stated, “In order to avoid such situations in the future, Visva-Bharati has documented the facts and asked Prof. Sen to take the necessary steps to defend his self-respect and the institution’s reputation.”
It said, “Two options are available: the misunderstanding that Prof. Sen appears to be cultivating will be resolved through legal intervention or conversation with Visva-Bharati officials.” The topic must be discussed openly and honestly, without the baggage of reality illusions.”
The institution reported that as of 2018, 77 acres of a total of 1,134 acres have been encroached upon. The institution has regained 15 acres of land from unauthorised inhabitants during the past four years, according to a press statement.
“Efforts to remove unauthorised squatters began in response to an order issued by the Government of India on November 30, 2017,” the document stated.
It said, “In the case of Professor Amartya Sen, the modification of land awarded to his father Ashutosh Sen began with a letter from Amartya to the then-Vice-Chancellor Rajat Ray. In the letter, Prof. Amartya inquired as to whether legal action may be taken during Ray’s next trip to Santiniketan.
“It is abundantly obvious from the information and papers given with Prof Sen via our letters dated 24-01-2023 and 27-01-2023 that 1.38 acres of land were never leased to the late Ashutosh Sen. Less than 1.25 acres of land were leased to him. Following the application dated 31-10-2005, the lease of only 1.25 acres of land was changed in his favour for the remainder of the original lease term, as authorised by the executive council of the University at its meeting on 3 September 2006.
The university administrators sent Amartya Sen a letter on January 24 requesting that he return portions of a plot he had allegedly occupied in Santiniketan.
In a letter to Prof. Sen, the university’s Deputy Registrar stated, “It has been determined by records and physical survey/demarcation that you are illegally occupying 13 decimals of Visva Bharati property.”
Then, on January 27, another letter requesting the restoration of the occupied land was addressed to Prof. Sen. “The attached letter dated January 24 and accompanying documentation speak for themselves. You are in possession of 1.38 acres of land, which exceeds your 1.25-acre legal entitlement. Please restore the land to Visva-Bharati as soon as possible, as the application of the laws of the land will embarrass both you and Visva-Bharati, which you hold in such high regard, according to a letter dated January 27.
Previously, the Nobel Laureate stated that the majority of the land he owns at Santiniketan (in the region of Birbhum) was “bought from the market” by his father Ashutosh Sen, while other portions were leased.
Sen questioned on January 25 why the central university had suddenly been “so active” in attempting to force him out of “that place.”
He said that his attorneys will respond to such correspondence. According to university officials, the economist’s Santiniketan house received the letter.
The leaders of the Trinamool Congress have criticised the university’s decision. Abhishek Banerjee, a member of parliament and the party’s general secretary, stated on Saturday, “The major reason for Amartya Sen’s vicious attack is his admiration for Mamata Banerjee. Since he commended the chief executive, 1.5 acres of land became 100 acres… If he had applauded the BJP instead of Mamata Banerjee, the situation would have been different. It is quite disgraceful and regrettable that Amartya Sen is being attacked in this manner.”