Ashoka University: Ahead of Faculty Deadline, IB Team Comes Looking for Das

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SONEPAT – A team from the Intelligence Bureau (IB) knocked on the doors of Ashoka University on Monday and Tuesday, ahead of the August 23 deadline set by the faculty members for the varsity authorities demanding non-interference in their work and to address the issue concerning assistant professor Sabyasachi Das.

The development comes days after Das resigned from the university following the latter’s attempt to investigate his research paper titled ‘Democratic Backsliding in the World’s Largest Democracy’.

Sources on the campus confirmed to IANS that a team of IB sleuths visited the university looking for Das, whose research paper suggesting voter manipulation in the 2019 general elections triggered a row. 

However, the IB sleuths were informed by the varsity authorities that Das is on leave. The IB officials then requested to meet other faculty members in the economics department. 

Das had resigned from the university earlier this month, after which professor Pulapre Balakrishnan too had stepped down in protest over acceptance of Das’ resignation.

Several departments of the university, including economics, sociology, anthropology and political science, have extended their support to Das, demanding to reinstate him immediately.

As many as 320 economists from 91 universities across country too have extend their support to Das, demanding the varsity to immediately reinstate him.

The Department of Economics had expressed its disappointment over the acceptance of Das’ resignation, and had written an open letter to the governing body of the varsity saying the ‘’hasty’’ acceptance has ruptured their faith.

The faculty members had also demanded that the university must ensure that its governing body does not interfere in their work and urged it to address the issue concerning Das by August 23.

Even Balakrsihana in his resignation letter wrote, “I have resigned from my position based on my belief that there was a grave error of judgment in the response to the attention received by Das’ paper on social media. Academic freedom was violated in the response, and it would be unconscionable for me to remain (in the post).”

He also said that he has news that the governing body has decided to invite Das to return to the post from which he had resigned, and If this is correct, “I appreciate the gesture, if not, I would request you as leaders of this community to consider doing just that”.

In his letter to Rudrangshu Mukherjee, Chancellor and professor of history at Ashoka University, and Pramath Raj Sinha, Founder and Trustee of the university, Balakrishnan said, “I write to you as the dust settles at least a bit on the recent turmoil at our university. News is that the governing body has decided to invite young Sabyasachi Das to return to the post from which he had resigned. If this is correct, I appreciate the gesture. If not, I would request you as leaders of this community to consider doing just that.”

Faculty members in the university had earlier written a letter to the varsity administration flagging concerns over academic freedom in the institution.

On August 15, in the wake of the resignation of Das and members of faculty writing to him for the formation of a committee for academic freedom, Ashoka University’s Vice Chancellor Somak Raychaudhary had assured all the members that measures are now being taken to form the committee and they have his full support to create it. -IANS

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