Mumbai Jan 21
Professor Yogesh Soman, Director of the Academy of Theatre Arts of the Mumbai University, has been sent on forced leave, following his criticism of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, for his remarks on Veer Savarkar, even as teachers’ associations have threatened to launch an agitation demanding withdrawal of action against him.
Soman had reportedly posted a video on Twitter targeting Rahul Gandhi for his remarks on Savarkar. In the video, he had said that “You are right you are not Savarkar. You have nothing of him in you, his dedication, his sacrifice his valour, but you also do not have anything to be called Gandhi. I condemn your pappugiri”.
After Soman’ remarks against Rahul Gandhi, students’ organisations including Chhatra Bharti Students Union and the All India Students’ Federation(AISF) and National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) (Congress’s students’ wing) sat in dharna at Mumbai University’s Kalina Campus in North West Mumbai, demanding action against him. In response to the students’ protest, Soman was sent on forced leave by the university administration.
However Mumbai University and College Teachers’Association (MUCTA) has threatened to launch an agitation if the action against Soman is not withdrawn. A delegation of MUCTA called on Mumbai University Vice-Chancellor Dr Suhas Pednekar and submitted him a memorandum. In the memorandum MUCTA stated that Soman is a dedicated teacher and out spoken person and he cannot be punished for any incident outside the university.
“The university administration should not succumb to bullying tactics by students coming in crowds. If the university believes in “freedom of speech” then it should not indulge in such action which has no legal base. Soman was not given a chance to clarify his position and as such action against him is one sided. If he is not immediately reinstated, then the association will be left with no alternative but to launch an indefinite agitation, MUCTA General secretary Subhash Athavale said.
MUCTA also pointed out that the salary of teachers is pending in many colleges in Maharashtra for the last several months. It was unfortunate that instead of resolving teachers’ basic issues, the vice chancellor has been taking unconstitutional actions. Co-incidentally the teachers of Yadavrao Tasgaonkar College Of Engineering & Management, Karjat, Raigad district, whose salary is pending for the last two years also joined MUCTA in protes.
In Maharashtra, the Higher and Technical Education ministry, under whose jurisdiction universities fall, is headed by Shiv Sena’s Uday Samant. However the Shiv Sena heading the three party coalition government, badly depends upon the NCP and Congress for its survival. The students’ bodies who demanded action Soman, were left oriented and affiliated to the Congress.