Two senior administrative members of the Ashoka University in Haryana have quit after the management expressed its “displeasure” on a petition filed by several members of the university which addressed the Jammu and Kashmir government and the Centre, condemning the violence after militant leader Burhan Wani’s death and calling for demilitarisation of the state. They also demanded to conduct plebiscite to solve the Kashmir issue
As many as 88 members of the university, including students, alumni, two employees and one faculty member have signed the petition, which was filed back in July.
On October 7, deputy manager of academic affairs Saurav Goswami and programme manager of academic affairs Adil Mushtaq Shah informed the current batch of Young India Fellowship, a postgraduate diploma programme in liberal studies, that they are leaving the university.
Although they quit on personal grounds, many on campus say the management had forced them to leave as they made its “displeasure” known to the staff after the petition went public, the Indian Express reports.
Meanwhile Shah, Goswami and Narayanan refrained from responding to the media.
Until two weeks ago, they (Goswami and Shah) had no intention of leaving; they were busy planning guest (speaker) sessions for December. And then, out of the blue, we find emails announcing their resignation. It seems too much of a coincidence that the only two employees who signed the petition resign together and leave the university the same dayA Student at the Ashoka University
The Ashoka University in Sonepat, which advertises itself as a world-class “pioneering liberal initiative” that encourages students “to think and to question,” is roiled in a debate over curbs on freedom of speech and opinion on campus.
After the Kashmir petition went public, the “liberal” university had issued a statement saying only a handful of individuals, including a few students had signed the letter, and it, “in no way, represents” the institute’s point of view. It further continued the university does not endorse the views held by these individuals, and at no point, supported them. In fact, it also condemned “such behavior”, and asked the university members not to use the “good name of the University to represent personal views and ideas”.
The possibility that a university which claims to be a liberal institute, and which encourages change-makers to take action, has resorted to emotional coercion towards its employees is unacceptable to usLetter by the students
An assistant professor in the mathematics department Rajendran Narayanan, the only teacher who signed the petition, is also under pressure to quit.
In a contrasting note, the mission statement of the university states its aim as: “to help students become well-rounded individuals who can think critically about issues from multiple perspectives, communicate effectively and become leaders with a commitment to public service.”
Ashoka University is a private educational institution built through “collective public philanthropy,” backed by many bigwigs in business and academia.