A post is being widely shared on social media, claiming that Nobel laureate Amartya Sen was involved in gross irregularities and land grabbing during his tenure at Visva-Bharati University in West Bengal. Let’s verify the claim made in the post.
Claim: Amartya Sen was involved in gross irregularities and land grab during his tenure at visva-Bharati university in West Bengal.
Fact: Amartya Sen never held an official position at Visva-Bharati University, and the recent controversy between him and the university is related to a dispute over his ancestral property. Hence the claim made in the post is MISLEADING.
We conducted an internet search to learn more about Amartya Sen’s connection with Visva-Bharati University. According to Sen’s biography on the Nobel Prize website, he was born on the Visva-Bharati campus in Santiniketan in 1933 and completed his school education there. According to his curriculum vitae, Sen received an honorary D. Litt from Visva-Bharati University in 1983. However, there is no indication that he held a faculty or administrative position at the university. Furthermore, Amartya Sen’s name is not mentioned in the list of prominent personalities associated with Visva-Bharati.
According to media reports, the land dispute between Amartya Sen and Visva-Bharati University centres around a plot of land on the university campus in Santiniketan. In December 2020, the university included Sen in a list of illegal occupants on its campus. The university alleges that Sen possesses 1.38 acres of land, which exceeds his legal entitlement of 1.25 acres. They claim that only 1.25 acres of land were leased to Sen’s father, Ashutosh Sen, a professor at Visva-Bharati University in 1940. In response to the university’s January 2023 letters demanding the return of excess land, Sen stated that his father had purchased the freehold land from the market, not from Visva-Bharati, and they have been paying taxes for it. He argued that the university’s allegations were an attempt at harassment.
In April 2023, the University administration issued an eviction notice, stating that Sen’s earlier reply to the show cause notice was fallacious and factually incorrect. They maintained that Visva Bharati was the rightful owner of all the lands, including the 13 decimals of land occupied by Sen, which had been encroached upon over the years.
In response, Amartya Sen indicated that he had seen a statement from parts of Visva Bharati about his ancestral home in Pratichi, Santiniketan. He explained that his family had possessed and regularly used the land since 1943 and that he inherited it after his parents passed away. Sen mentioned that his parents had also purchased land near the leased area, and its use had remained consistent for 80 years. He argued that any claims against the lease before its expiration were invalid, and cited the local magistrate’s assertion that the existing arrangement should be respected, and no disruptions or breaches of peace should be permitted.
Following this, the university had recently ordered Sen to vacate the 13 decimals of land allegedly occupied by him in Santiniketan by 06 May 2023. Amartya Sen approached a court against this eviction order. The case has now been filed on behalf of the Nobel laureate in West Bengal’s Suri district court, with a hearing scheduled for 15 May 2023. Over 120 left-leaning intellectuals and prominent figures have written an open letter, urging Visva-Bharati University not to “harass” Nobel laureate Amartya Sen over the land issue.
To sum it up, Amartya Sen never held an official position at Visva-Bharati University, and the recent controversy between him and the university is centred around a dispute over his ancestral property.