Mumbai: Students boycott classes, support pours in for professor

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Students boycott classes, support pours in for suspended professor
Mumbai, Jan 9: Neeraj Hatekar, the econometrics professor who was recently suspended by the Mumbai University, has been receiving overwhelming support from various parts of the country. Declaring solidarity with the professor, around 1000 students of Mumbai University refused to attend classes and several departments at the Mumbai University did not hold classes on Wednesday.

The professor was suspended on Saturday for speaking to the media about the decline of the university's academic and governance standards. The varsity authorities accused him of giving "false information" to the media, thereby tarnishing the varsity's reputation.

The varsity Vice-Chancellor Rajan Welukar has not responded on the issue yet. This has prompted students to now boycott the upcoming convocation on Sunday.

The University Community for Democracy and Equality (UCDE) is organising a silent protest on Sunday at the Kalina campus and has invited students, teachers and other staffers of the varsity.

Chief guest for the convocation, scientist RA Mashelkar, has been asked not to attend the ceremony and demonstrate his support against the suspension. "Students are going to send mails and letters to convocation invitees urging them not to be a part of it as unjust and arbitrary practices are being followed by the University administration," said UCDE spokesperson Prashant to Times of India.

Students and staffers of the varsity has dubbed the suspension illegal, improper and unjust. It is in gross violation of the principles of natural justice, they said.

The Aam Aadmi Party has also extended support for the professor. "Prof Hatekar dared to expose the corruption in the department and the result was that he had to face the backlash of the system." The party accused the VC of "blatant misuse of powers'. The AAP leader Mayank Gandhi pparticipated in the protest on Wednesday.

Historian Ramachandra Guha tweeted, "Professor Hatekar is an outstanding scholar whose work I have long admired. Maharashtra was the crucible of progressive intellectual thinking in India. Mumbai U should honour this history, not undermine it."

It is known that the suspension was in the VC's interest and in spite of opposition from other teachers and management council, the VC went ahead and exercised his emergency powers.

The classes are now being held with the help of assistant professors, teachers said.

Professor moves HC

Meanwhile, Prof Neeraj Hatekar has moved the Bombay high court claiming the action against him is "patently illegal." His petition states the VC cannot suspend him and that the decision of suspension has to be taken by the varsity's management council of the university. Also, there is a format for suspension which has to mention a proper reason, the petition said.

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