“We only resisted intervention of police, expelling of students…,” suspended SAU professors

The institute has been in the news for targeting students and now faculty

Strongly condemning the arbitrary action against four professors pf the South Asia University (SAU) Delhi, the Jawaharlal University Teachers Association (JNUTA) in a statement issued recently called it an attempt to intimidate and silence the dissenting voices. The four professors suspended are Snehashish Bhattacharya (Faculty of Economics), Srinivas Burra (Faculty of Legal Studies), Irfanullah Farooqi (Faculty of Social Sciences), and Ravi Kumar (Faculty of Social Sciences). The suspension notice was issued on June 16.

The four faculty members of the South Asian University in New Delhi were suspended, alleging “misconduct” and “inciting” a student’s protest against the administration.  Responding to the accusations, one of the four suspended faculty members requesting anonymity has told the media, “The faculty members were only requesting the university officials to follow a due process and to initiate a dialogic intervention to come up with an amicable solution concerning the students’ protests and their demands.”

“We are facing the wrath of the same arbitrariness we were arguing for, and administration has been using against the students, which is an unstructured process,” he said.

The SAU has been mired in controversy since last September when the students protested against the varsity’s decision to cut the stipend for students pursuing master’s degrees at the institute. Following this, the university expelled five students, prompting an indefinite mass hunger strike by students. One of the students, Ammar Ahmad, collapsed during the hunger strike and later even suffered a cardiac arrest.

Soon after, these four faculty members, including others, wrote a letter to the varsity’s officials saying that “arbitrary actions of the administration” have “sharply worsened the university situation,” which they say the administration never responded to. The months-long protest seeking a rise in stipend ended in December last year as soon as the vacations were announced; however, the administration’s onslaught continued in the the holidays. On December 30,  2022, show cause notices were issued to five faculty members for ‘inciting protests.’

In a recent development, on 16 June, four of those five faculty members received a suspension letter. Sabrangindia has reported on the extensive issues plaguing this prestigious insytitution, today being allowed to decay in an article that may be read here.

Responding to why only four teachers were targeted when there were more than a dozen signatories to the two emails sent to the administration questioning the procedural lapse, the faculty member said, “It is a classic case of nitpicking. It is also about instilling fear in others, indirectly telling them the fate of every sane voice that flags the importance of following due processes and fundamental issues in violating the rules and regulations of the university.”

When asked about being a part of a study circle constituted to discuss pertinent issues – Aijaz Ahmed Study Circle – the teacher also responded, “The allegations are completely baseless, be it supporting the protesting students or being a part of any study circle on the campus.”

He asserted, “Branding Aijaz Ahmed study circle as a ‘Marxist study circle’ is once again to be understood as part of a larger campaign that gains massively from selective usage of Marxism and Marxist ideology. This is simply an efficient way of putting a narrative in place”.

He added Aijaz Ahmed was a world-renowned scholar, and his works might have attracted students to name the study circle after him.

The faculty member remarked, “What the university administration fails to understand is that students are intellectually autonomous and do not need to be spoon-fed by faculty members. They can name their ventures after anyone. Who are we to dictate?”

However, the professor believes in having an inclusive academic environment on the campuses and considers it an important aspect of any educational institution.

He said, “Universities work on certain principles and are spaces that nurture cultural tolerance, so whatever students learn can develop a culture of debating and sense of questioning and differentiating between right and wrong.”

“Suspending the students for merely learning a particular ideology is in any way wrong and baseless,” said a social science faculty member who is now suspended.

What is Aijaz Ahmad Study Circle that led to the suspension of faculty members?

Aijaz Ahmad Study Circle was founded in 2020 by students who identify themselves as followers of Marxism to fill the ‘lack of political space to accommodate and exchange the thoughts of Marxist students’ on the campus.

The study circle is a brainchild of three Marxist students, Apoorva Yarabahally, Sandra Elizabeth Joseph, Sukanya Maitey, and some Ambedkarite students.

The faculty members will remain suspended during the pending investigation, and the university has not provided a time frame for their suspension.

The four faculty members will now challenge the suspension legally as it is the ‘arbitrary move of suspending them.’

They said, “We have sought legal help and will do whatever it takes to ensure that our rightful claims don’t go in vain because we are not wrong. We will follow a due process that we have been advocating for.”


Crisis in South Asian University (SAU) escalates, first students now academics targeted



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