Nobel Laureate and leftist ‘intellectual’ Amartya Sen‘s name has come up in the list of people illegally occupying the land belonging to Visva Bharati University in West Bengal. According to reports, the varsity has written to the West Bengal government that several properties belonging to it have been wrongly recorded in the name of private parties. A list of such unauthorised occupants prepared by the University includes the name of Amartya Sen.
The properties wrongly recorded in the name of unauthorised occupants include girls’ hostel, academic department, office and Vice Chancellor’s bungalow. The University has alleged that the persons in whose names the properties have been wrongly recorded in the government’s record-of-right, the University’s land has been wrongly transferred to them and they have set up restaurants, schools and other businesses on it.
Central government’s control over West Bengal is growing: Sen
Sen has allegedly illegally occupied 13 decimals of land which is in addition to the 125 decimal land legally leased to his late father by the University. However, Sen has denied the allegations. Responding to the allegations, Sen told Times of India that the University land on which his house is situated is on a long-term lease. “I see from your report that Vice-Chancellor Bidyut Chakrabarty of Visva-Bharati is busy arranging the ‘eviction of unauthorised occupation of leased land in the campus’ and that I have also been named in the list of occupants”, Sen said. “The Visva-Bharati on which our house is situated is on a long term lease, which is nowhere near its expiry, but the Vice-Chancellor can always dream about evicting anyone he wants”, he added.
The ’eminent economist’ targeted the central government and alleged that the control of the central government was growing in the state. Insinuating that the Vice-Chancellor was being instructed by the central government to act against him, Sen said that the Vice-Chancellor was ’empowered by the central government in Delhi’. “Having been born and brought up in Santiniketan, I could comment on the growing gap between the Santiniketan culture and that of the VC, empowered as he is by the Central government in Delhi, with its growing control over Bengal”, he alleged. Sen said that he would take the legal recourse in the matter.
Leaseholders sold their lease-hold land to outsiders
Reportedly, as per the University’s estate office, the erroneous records were prepared in the 1980s and 1990. A large part of the land, which was procured by Rabindranath Tagore for the University, is located in the Purvapalli area of Santiniketan which is a residential hub of eminent persons and the families associated with the Ashrama school and Visva-Bharati during their inception. The documents available with the University reveal the extent of encroachment on the University land in 1990s. The documents were also sent to the Ministry of education and the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG).
In 2006, Sen had requested the then Vice-Chancellor to transfer the 99-year old lease-hold land to his name which was done after the decision of the Executive Council. However, the excess land was reportedly never returned to the University. According to TOI, an internal reports issued by the estate office of the University to various offices in July 2020, the varsity has taken up the matter of correction of the ownership of 77 plots of land. The report states that the high profile people illegally occupied the leased land in Purvapalli, Dakshinapalli and Sripalli area will be evicted.
An estate official reportedly said that Sen was aware that he was unauthorisedly occupying a large chunk of the University land. He claimed that Sen’s family benefitted by selling plots near the campus that had no access other than through the campus. A tentative list of illegal occupants released in December 2016 stated that the leaseholders had sold their lease-hold land to outsiders.