Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Latest right wing assault on academia

Jammu varsity prof loses headship over survey
Prabhjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Jammu, September 4
A professor of Jammu University is in trouble for conducting a survey on the Jammu and Kashmir issue, following a complaint by a political outfit which finds the scholar "anti-national". Professor and Head, Department of Political Science, Jammu University, Rekha Chowdhary, was yesterday removed from the headship on the charge of misusing her powers.

The university had received a complaint from the local unit of the Shiv Sena for action against those who had conducted the survey, vice-chancellor Amitabh Mattoo said while talking to The Tribune on the issue.

The survey "does not report the feelings of nationalist and patriotic people of Jammu". And this grudge of the Shiv Sena was mentioned in a letter, which was issued to Chowdhary by a three-member inquiry committee, constituted by the V-C, for her explanation on her "undesirable activities". She had also been asked to comment on an allegation that she was "anti-national".

Before she could reply, she was yesterday sacked from the post "in the interest of the university's administration".

"The Shiv Sena barged into my office and sought an action," Mattoo said. He said though he had not seen the raw copy of the survey report, he came to know the survey projections from news reports.

The currents in the university ran high last week following the release of the survey, which was conducted jointly by two media organisations with the help of the Political Science departments of Kashmir University and Jammu University. It said, "The valley wants azadi, but the rest of India and Pakistan does not share the sentiment".

As per the survey, 95 per cent of residents of Jammu believed that the whole of Jammu and Kashmir should be with India, while the figure on this query stood at 7 per cent in Srinagar. Significantly, Chowdhary had been assigned the task of surveying Jammu only.
Nearly 87 per cent of the residents of Srinagar responded in the affirmative to a query whether Kashmir should be an independent country, while only 3 per cent in Jammu agreed with this viewpoint.

The committee constituted by the V-C to probe into the role of the university in the survey and take "disciplinary action" against Chowdhary, also raised its reservations on senior Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Omar Farooq's interview conducted by her way back in 2004. The matter was published in 'Reflections', a UGC-sponsored newsletter of the university.

Sources close to the V-C said that Chowdhary was removed following her "open letter to the vice-chancellor" in which she accused him of several irregularities both at the academic administrative levels.


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