A senior faculty member of Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) today resigned alleging that he was “targeted" by the I&B Ministry for supporting the protests over Dalit student Rohith Vemula's suicide and JNU and FTII issues.
Amit Sengupta, an Associate Professor in the department of English Journalism, quit after an order was issued transferring him to the premier media school's campus in Odisha's Dhenkanal district, which he slammed as a “political decision". “I have been targeted because I supported the solidarity protest for Rohith Vemula in the campus, organised independently by students of IIMC in which other faculty members too participated… I have been targeted also because I supported the JNU and FTII students," Sengupta wrote in his resignation letter.
Refuting allegations of politically targeting the IIMC faculty, a senior Information and Broadcasting Ministry official claimed 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.
However, the official also added that Sengupta's services had only been “temporarily" placed in Dhenkanal in view of shortage of faculty on that campus. Reacting to the charges, Sengupta said views expressed on social media fell on his personal domain and was his “constitutional right". “I am proud of standing up for Rohith Vemula and will continue to do so in the days to come. This is my constitutional right. I think grave injustice has been done to him and the students of Hyderabad Central University. I will always stand and fight for Dalit rights.
“I think both the struggles (JNU and FTII) are glorious and the country will enrich itself with the great leap of imagination and the brilliant content of the peaceful, democratic debate the students and faculty of these great institutions have generated," Sengupta, a former journalist, said. Significantly, the decision to transfer Sengupta came within days of the I&B Ministry proposing a set of institutional mechanism including a code of conduct for teachers and employees that among other things included a “ban" on political activity by the faculty on the campus.
In his resignation letter, Sengupta flayed the decision to transfer him accusing the IIMC authorities of reducing the institution into a “hand-maiden of a vicious, undemocratic and partisan regime".
Sengupta, who has worked for leading dailies and magazines in the past, said the move to transfer him “arbitrarily" was part of a “larger witch-hunt" against intellectual freedom and to “target and eliminate individuals who this regime has declared as enemies for reasons only they know". “In IIMC, I have perhaps taken the maximum number of lectures/workshops, like many of my learned faculty members. I have taught my students that they will never do journalism which professes xenophobia, casteism, sexism, racism, and communalism.
“That they should be objective and impartial. Also, that they should have open-ended, non-dogmatic and independent minds and stand for truth and public interest, come what may. I presume I am paying a price for that," he wrote.
Sengupta said that it was an “honour" for him as a former JNUSU president to address the open air gathering of faculty and students of JNU and that he was proud being part of the “great intellectual and political tradition" of JNU. IIMC, run by the I&B Ministry, has been in the news in the recent past over students alleging “casteism" against their peers belonging to the SC and ST community.
The institute conducted a probe and ordered the expulsion of a student from its hostel here for three weeks for posting “offensive and insulting" remarks on social media against students belonging to dalit community. Another student, a Dalit and a complainant in the case, has also been expelled from the IIMC hostel for a week for allegedly using “indecent and vulgar language" against a faculty member on a Whatsapp group.