Bolpur (WB), Jan 30 (PTI) Amid allegations of “unauthorised occupation” against Nobel laureate Amartya Sen by Visva-Bharati, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday handed over land-related documents to him, asserting that “no one can question him” in future.
Banerjee, who reached Bolpur in the second half of the day, visited Sen at his residence and dubbed the accusations made against him as “baseless”.
The economist thanked her but said those trying to take away his home “because of ideological differences” would find another way to get back at him.
The chief minister also announced that the Nobel laureate would be accorded ‘Z+ category’ security in future.
The West Bengal administration in a statement later said, “The state government has checked all old land records. It was found that Ashutosh Sen, father of Professor Sen, has been given a long-term lease of 1.38 acres and not 1.25 acres as alleged by Visva-Bharati.”
The central university has been claiming that the economist has been illegally possessing 0.13 acres of land, which was repeatedly rejected by Sen.
“Allegations of land grabbing against him (Amartya Sen) are baseless. It is an attempt to tarnish his reputation. No one has the right to insult him. We won’t tolerate it,” Banerjee said as the economist sat beside her at his home.
The CM said her government would decide on the next course of legal action once she is back in Kolkata.
In a recent interview with PTI, the 90-year-old economist said Banerjee has the ability to be the Prime Minister, but it has not yet been established that she “can pull the forces of public dismay against the BJP in an integrated way to make it possible for her to have the leadership to put an end to the fractionalisation in India.”
Visva-Bharati, in two letters in three days last week, asked Sen to immediately hand over the land he is allegedly occupying in an “unauthorised manner” at Santiniketan.
In a statement on Monday, the varsity also gave Sen two options — “intervention of the court of law or discussion with Visva-Bharati authority”.
Banerjee said, “I have been hearing baseless allegations against him for a long time… I waited as I went through the records and also asked officials to do the same. We have dug out the original land records. I will direct the district magistrate to do what is needed.”
She also ordered setting up of a police camp outside Sen’s residence in Birbhum.
Lashing out at varsity authorities for “trying to saffronise” the institution, the TMC boss said she has immense “respect for Visva-Bharati” but was “pained to see the central university function like an island disconnected from the rest of Bengal”.
She urged the BJP and its associates to “stop humiliating the Nobel laureate, who has made Bengal and the entire country proud”.
Hitting out at Visva-Bharati Vice-Chancellor Bidyut Chakraborty, Banerjee said, “He is attempting to saffronise the university. He has no right to insult someone. Is he even worthy of being the VC of Visva-Bharati?”
Thanking Banerjee for her gesture, Sen said, “She had come with the land records and researched the details. It was a pleasant surprise for me. But it is quite natural for a politician to delve into the details.”
When asked if he feels that the land controversy will end with Banerjee’s visit, Sen replied in the negative.
“I don’t think it will end here. Those trying to take away my home because of ideological differences would find another way to get back at him. I was born and brought up in a secular atmosphere and believe in secularism. Those who indulge in communal politics don’t like such views preaching secularism,” he told a news channel.
Banerjee’s visit to Sen’s residence triggered a war of words between the TMC and the BJP.
“She is trying to score political brownie points through this visit. We all know how much respect he has for intellectuals, who oppose her authoritarian style of functioning,” Leader of the Opposition Suvendu Adhikari said.
TMC leader Debangshu Bhattacharya said Banerjee had tried to correct the wrong that is being meted out to the pride of India for vested political interest.