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Two Bengal professors asked to explain 'anti-government comments'

Kolkata, June 8 - Two professors in two government colleges of West Bengal have been issued show cause notices by the higher education department and asked to explain their "anti-state government comments" on television programmes.

Explanation has been sought from Debasish Sarkar, an associate professor of economics at Jhargram Raj College in West Midnapore district, and Shampa Sen, head of the department of Bengali at Hooghly Mohsin College in Hooghly district.

Both are often invited by Bengali news channels to take part in panel discussions.

The notices were sent on the basis of a complaint made by a former teacher May 25 that they were making anti-government comments on television shows.

Explaining the step, Higher Education Minister Bratya Basu said the teachers had merely been asked whether they had taken prior permission before airing their views to the media.

"The post of a teacher in a government college is a cadre post. There is a distinction between them and academicians in universities and government-aided colleges," the minister said here.

"I don't know the contents of the complaint. We just want to know whether they are following the rules or not," he added.

However, both Sarakar and Sen said they had not just been asked about taking prior permission but to give proper explanation of their views expressed on television programmes.

"I received the notice along with a copy of the complaint Thursday. The complainant has alleged that by making politically-motivated comments, I'm vitiating the academic atmosphere," said Debasish Sarkar, who is also the general secretary of West Bengal Government College Teachers' Association.

"The complaint also seeks to know if I earn any money by participating in the discussions. In the notice, I have been asked to explain my position regarding the complaint within 15 days."

Terming the move as unexpected, Shampa Sen said: "In the notice, I have been asked to explain my position as regards to a complaint where it has been stated that I have made anti-government comments."

Dubbing the incident as unfortunate, educationist Sunando Sanyal said: "With each passing day, the growing intolerance of the government is becoming evident".

Some months ago, Jadavpur University professor Ambikesh Mahapatra was arrested for circulating alleged defamatory cartoons of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

Earlier, another professor, Partha Sarathi Roy, was arrested for participating in an anti-eviction rally.

Both were later released.


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