On January 7, IIT-BHU terminated visiting professor Dr Sandeep Pandey’s contract. No explicit reason was cited in the termination letter. According to Professor Pandey, IIT-Director Rajeev Sangal said it was because of his Naxal and anti-national activities.
Professor Pandey began teaching at BHU three years ago before which he was a social worker. In 2002, he was awarded the prestigious Magsaysay Award for the emergent leadership category. He also works with ASHA Parivar, an organization which focuses on strengthening democracy at the grassroots in the Hardoi district in Uttar Pradesh which he co-founded.
Excerpts from the interview:
Why did they expel you from IIT-BHU?
I have been accused of being a naxal and an anti-national for which I was terminated from IIT-BHU on January 2. I was also accused of screening “India’s Daughter,” the BBC documentary on the Nirbhaya case which has been banned by the government. I have the letter of termination but it states no reason. I have been teaching here for the past three years. My contract gets renewed every year, but this year, it has been terminated before my term ends in July.
Did you screen the banned documentary?
No. We were planning on screening it but decided against it as the Chief Proctor and the police didn’t give us permission. Instead of India’s Daughter we screened another documentary which was also based on the issue of violence against women.
Why do you think you were targeted and by whom?
I think that some RSS people are behind this. They are the ones doing all of this. I keep criticising RSS and their work which is why all this is happening to me. These people who are completely against the idea of freedom call themselves patriots. Their work is creating an atmosphere of terror in our country.
Do you think that the atmosphere at BHU is changing?
There was no personal targeting before, but since the BJP has come to power, this is happening. These people (RSS) want to vitiate the atmosphere. Be it academics or admissions, they are imposing their high-handedness on everyone. This is how the environment is getting polluted. Standards of education have also been falling.