Around 1,000 students of the University of Mumbai are skipping class today, but for a cause. They are protesting the suspension of a professor, Neeraj Hatekar, for allegedly criticizing the college management.
Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has also joined the protest that has galvanised the student community in Mumbai.
Dr Hatekar, a professor of Econometrics in the university’s economics department was suspended on Saturday by Vice Chancellor Rajan Velukar, allegedly for going public on alleged mismanagement and the deterioration of the university’s academic status, at a press conference last month.
“The Vice Chancellor has violated every rule by suspending Neeraj Hatekar. It’s not justified,” said AAP leader Mayank Gandhi.
Students say the professor, who is widely respected as a good teacher of game theory and microeconomics, was punished without being given a chance to defend himself.
They had written to the Vice-Chancellor on Monday, asking that professor Dr Hatekar’s suspension be revoked. Getting no response, they decided to protest today, reports the Mid-Day. They are also planning a signature campaign and will meet the state Governor. Dr Hatekar has petitioned the Bombay High Court against the suspension order.
The protest has also gone online with the students setting up a Facebook page ‘Save the Mumbai University’ to urge more students to join the protest.
Historian Ramachandra Guha tweeted, “The decline of a great public university is a national tragedy. The administrators of Mumbai University must restore intellectual freedom.”