Professor Maroona Murmu of Jadavpur University, who was against the Centre’s decision to hold examinations amid the risk of COVID-19, never thought that her views would take an ugly turn on social media as she started facing casteist abuse for her stand.
Trouble began on September 2, after Murmu, who belongs to the tribal community, expressed concern on social media regarding the University Grants Commission's (UGC) decision to hold conventional examinations for final year and terminal semester students.
Her post drew severe criticism from various people including an objectionable comment in ‘Bangla’ language from one Paromita Ghosh, a student of Bethune College, who wrote, "It’s surprising that Jadavpur University has professors like Maroona Murmu. I am surprised with her mentality and stand taken (against holding the examinations). I would like to explain to her the difference between ‘quota’ and no-quota)."
She further said, "To know that life is more important than an academic year, one doesn’t require being a professor. It’s not about lagging one year but about how some unqualified and incompetent people take undue advantage of the reservation system and their caste is now helping them be successful, while those deserving lags behind. Risking life, our parents are stepping out to survive, to arrange food, while some are sitting at home and getting paid."
The college student put up another post on her Facebook profile saying, "Today morning, just reminded one ‘Murmu’ a Santhal about her Adivasi lineage. Some people like her, just made me realise that so-called professors are getting fat simply drawing paychecks."
Responding to such hate posts, Murmu said, "I never thought that I will face casteist remarks in Bengal. I only said that life is long and nothing will happen if examinations were not held for one year because of COVID-19."
She said, "I am saddened that the student instead of going into the core issue started commenting about my caste and quota. I belong to a tribal community and I think I have the right to express my views on current affairs without using objectionable comments."
Meanwhile, Bethune College students’ committee, issued a statement, which reads, "It has brought our college into disrepute. We unequivocally condemn the act of the student and we stand by Professor Maroona Murmu."
Jadavpur University Teachers’ Association (JUTA) also condemned "the vicious trolling and hate-attacks" being carried out on social media against one of its members, Professor Maroona Murmu, of the Department of History of the university.
“An innocuous comment by Professor Murmu, regarding the decision to conduct terminal semester examinations during the ongoing pandemic, caused a torrent of abuse to be unleashed against her on the basis of her ethnic origin. Her abusers have challenged, among other things, her qualification to teach at one of India’s premier universities. Such an attack, questioning the qualifications and integrity of Professor Murmu, is an attack on every teacher, not just in JU but anywhere in the country,” said JUTA General Secretary, Partha Pratim Ray.