New Delhi: In another example of academic autonomy and freedom of expression coming under strain, Amit Sengupta, a faculty member at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi, has resigned after being issued a transfer order to IIMC Dhenkenal – a move he described as a “punishment posting” and a political decision by the information and broadcasting ministry.
The transfer order was issued without any prior discussion with him or any other faculty member. Sengupta was a professor of English journalism at IIMC.
According to Sengupta, he was posted to Dhenkenal as “part of a larger witch-hunt against intellectual freedom, academic autonomy and professional excellence, to target and eliminate individuals whom this regime has declared as enemies”.
He claims that he has been targeted for supporting solidarity protests on the IIMC campus for Rohith Vemula, JNU students, and FTII students that were organised independently by some students and faculty.
In response to the allegations, an I&B ministry official told PTI that certain acts of Sengupta suggesting “indiscipline” had come to the notice of the authorities including his attempts to “politicise” the campus through posts on social media. The official also added that Sengupta’s services had only been “temporarily” placed in Dhenkanal in view of the shortage of faculty at the IIMC’s campus there.
In his resignation letter to IIMC, Sengupta defends the protests and his participation in them:
“…the country will enrich itself with… the peaceful, democratic debate the students and faulty of these great institutions have generated… I am proud of being part of the great intellectual and political tradition of JNU, which cultivates independent and critical thinking, open windows of enlightenment and pluralist and secular doors of perception, aligned with the poor, the Dalits, the adivasis, the minorities, and backward and marginalised sections of Indian society.”
He concludes, “You have not only targeted me, therefore, you have targeted the basic values of our progressive constitution.”