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Ashoka students call for class boycott next week, demand university reinstate Pratap Bhanu Mehta and Arvind Subramanian

In a statement issued late Friday night, the elected student body said that the two professors’ controversial exit had eroded their trust in the university administration to protect students from “external pressures”.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: March 20, 2021 12:46:07 am
The students are demanding a public apology and an unconditional offer letter be issued to both Mehta and Subramanian and an open meeting between the student community and the founders.

The student government at Ashoka University has called for a two-day boycott of classes starting Monday to protest the resignation of their teachers, Pratap Bhanu Mehta and Arvind Subramanian, and demand the University bring them back.

In a statement issued late Friday night, the elected student body said that the two professors’ controversial exit had eroded their trust in the university administration to protect students from “external pressures”.

The students are demanding a public acknowledgement by the university founders on Mehta’s statement that he felt that he was a “political liability” and that unconditional offer letters be issued to both Mehta and Subramanian. They have also called for “divesting of administrative powers and roles from founders of the university to the elected representatives of faculty, students and administration”.

“Moreover, if these demands are not met by Tuesday, we will be organising a separate movement demanding that the Vice-Chancellor resign,” the statement reads.

“Here, it is crucial to acknowledge the socio-economic capital required to make these demands and protest for these changes given the larger political context of the country. The state crackdown on academics and activists has only worsened during the pandemic. We stand in complete solidarity with all the academics and activists who have resisted the state’s brutality, organized in support of targeted groups and been subject to imprisonment and torture for it including, but not limited to the Bhima Koregaon 16, peaceful anti-CAA protestors and most recently Nodeep Kaur and Shiv Kumar,” the statement reads further.

The crisis at Ashoka University in the wake of Mehta’s resignation deepened Thursday. Calling the exit “ominously disturbing”, for academic freedom, Mehta’s colleague and former Chief Economic Advisor in the Modi government Arvind Subramanian sent in his resignation, too. Students protested on campus, the faculty issued a statement calling for Mehta’s return, and at least two more faculty members are said to be on the verge of quitting.

Mehta wrote in his resignation letter, “My public writing in support of a politics that tries to honour constitutional values of freedom and equal respect for all citizens, is perceived to carry risks for the university.”

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