Visva Bharati Faculty Members Write to President Kovind, PM Modi over Mandatory Staff Meetings Called by V-C

Faculty of the Visva Bharati University in West Bengal has written a letter to President Ram Nath Kovind and PM Narendra Modi alleging that the varsity's Vice Chancellor has been calling mandatory meetings, thereby putting several faculty members at risk of contracting the coronavirus.

President of the Visva Bharati University Faculty Association (VBUFA) wrote in the letter that Vice Chancellor (VC) Bidyut Chakraborty had called five meetings between April 5 and June 10, in violation of the Home and Human Resource Development ministry guidelines.

"The administration led by the Vice Chancellor Prof Bidyut Chakrabarty is not only manhandling the COVID-19 crisis, but is also taking vindictive actions against faculty members and other staff," the letter read.

The letter further stated that as per instructions of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, face to face meetings, should be avoided as far as possible, and staffers should interact over video conferencing and phone calls.

A letter issued by the university's registrar, instructed the faculty members to attend a mandatory meeting on June 10 in order to take care of the situation after Unlock 2 and take suggestions for holding classes and exams.

A senior professor of the university said that the meeting was called at Shantiniketan, for which a significant number of faculty member had to travel from Kolkata. "How will they travel when there isn't enough public transport and no local trains are running?" he said.

He further added that even if the staffers managed to arrive in Shantiniketan, they have to undergo mandatory self-isolation. "I don't know why the V-C is adamant on holding these meetings," he said.

Several meetings were held during the lockdown, he said. "It came as a shock when the principal of the university's Vinaya Bhavana was forced to resign after she allegedly did not attend a meeting," he said.

He further said that the V-C was requested to not hold the meetings several times, but to no avail. Therefore, a letter has been written to the President Kovind, PM Modi, HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal and Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar.