Visva Bharati prohibits teaching/non-teaching staff from speaking to media

Kolkata, Jan 30 (PTI) The Visva Bharati university on Thursday told its teaching and non-teaching staff not to speak to the media on varsity-related matter without prior permission of the authorities.

Only the official spokesperson will speak to the media on varsity-related matters.

A notification issued by Acting Registrar, dated January 30, said the teaching/non-teaching staff should not air any public statement they may wish to the media from now on.

The university said any public statement - which the teaching/non-teaching staff wish to air - should be sent to the assistant registrar and public relations in-charge Anirban Sircar in writing from now on.

'To seek public limelight and self-importance through media for oneself is unworthy of any teacher or employee of the university. Visva Bharati itself seeks no publicity. The genuine grievances of the staff will be sympathetically attended to by the concerned officers and the higher authorities and anyone can reach the registrar or the Vice-Chancellor through the above officers,' the notification said.

Sarkar has also been named as the 'Social Media Champion' in the notification which says no other staff member will make any statement on any university-related matter to media without prior permission of the university 'as per the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964.' The notification was sent to all directors/principals of bhavans, all heads of academic and administrative departments, deputy registrars among others.

Sarkar could not be contacted for his comments about the circumstances which prompted such a clampdown.

However, Visva Bharati University Faculty Association president Sudipta Bhattacharya described this directive as a 'strong-arm tactics' and claimed it was against the act and statute of the higher educational institution, which is an autonomous body and 'not bound by the Central Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964.' The SFI, Visva Bharati unit in a statement alleged the notification is aimed at curbing the freedom of expression.

The notification was preceded by incidents like anti-CAA protests in the campus, the six-hour long agitation against BJP MP Swapan Dasgupta, the clash between two groups of students inside the campus, circulation of two purported videos of Vice-Chancellor Bidyut Chakraborty on social network in past one and half month.

Sarkar had earlier alleged that the videos were doctored and aimed at maligning the image of the VC and the institution bearing Tagore's name and vitiating the peceful academic atmosphere in the campus. PTI SUS RG RG