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Amartya Sen lashes out at Visva-Bharati VC ’empowered’ by the Center | India News


CALCUTTA: At the center of a dispute over the “illegal” possession of land in Visva Bharati, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen accused his vice chancellor of acting at the behest of the Center “with his growing control over Bengal.”
Sen was born in 1933 in Santiniketan, which is home to Visva-Bharati, the university founded by Rabindranath Tagore, another Nobel laureate, and a Bengal literary giant.
Sen, in a press release late Friday, said that all of the land occupied by him on the sacred campus was registered under a long-term lease that was not close to expiring.
“I could comment on the great gap between the Santiniketan culture and that of the VC, empowered as it is by the central government in Delhi with its increasing control over Bengal,” Sen wrote.
A major controversy had erupted on Thursday, the day Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the Visva-Bharati centennial celebrations, when media reported that the university had written to the West Bengal government alleging that dozens of parcels of land of his property were incorrectly inscribed in the names of private parties, including Sen.
These people had set up restaurants, schools and other businesses on their land, the varsity team reportedly said.
Referring to the reports, Sen said that the Visva-Bharati authorities had never complained to him or his family about any irregularities in land tenure.
The Nobel laureate claimed that the Visva Bharati land on which his house is located is on long-term lease, nowhere near its expiration date.
“My father bought additional land as free property and registered it in the land registers with mouja Surul,” he said.
A freehold land is a parcel of land over which the owner has full control in perpetuity.
“I would rather use the Indian laws as they exist. For mental fortitude, I can hold on to the beautiful old image of our Abanindranath Tagore home, among others,” he said.
Abanindranath was the nephew of Rabindranath Tagore and a famous painter from the Bengal School of Art.
Amartya Sen’s maternal grandfather, Kshitimohan Sen, was a student at Santiniketan which became a university over time, and was honored with ‘Deshikottam’, a coveted award, in 1952. Kshitimohan Sen was the first recipient.
In media reports on VC’s claim to the faculty that Sen had called him in to discredit the eviction of street vendors selling their goods in front of his ‘Pratichi’ home, Sen said: “The need to invent completely imaginary conversations with me, starting in an impossible way with me introducing myself as ‘Bharat Ratna’ something no one has ever heard me do.
Launching a punch at Chakrabarty, Sen called him “an inventive artist.”
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had reacted angrily to media reports on Thursday, saying: “Due to her anti-BJP ideological stance, Amartyada has been the target of such a cruel attack by the current university authorities.
“I respect Amartya da. Do you think Amartya Sen has occupied land? I apologize to Amartya da on behalf of Bengal,” Banerjee said.
She also wrote a letter to Sen and asked him to consider her a “sister and friend” in his war against “intolerance and totalitarianism.”
BJP head of state Dilip Ghosh had warned Sen on Friday against being “used” by people with political interests.
“We may disagree with him ideologically but we respect him. We urge him not to be used by anti-development political forces in West Bengal,” Ghosh said.
The US-based economist, an icon of Bengali achievements on the world stage, has often been critical of the economic policies of the Narendra Modi government.

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