In “To sir, with love: University students to protest against prof’s wrongful suspension”, MID-DAY reported that around 1,000 students of Mumbai University had decided to miss class on January 08, 2014, protesting the suspension of Dr Neeraj Hatekar, a professor of Econometrics in the Economics Department at the University of Mumbai. Dr. Hatekar was suspended after he was part of a press conference in December, in which he reported the alleged mismanagement at the varsity and the deterioration of the university’s academic status.
In “Mumbai University is suffering for want of proper academic leadership”, The Times of India reports that Dr. Hatekar had alleged instances of the Vice-Chancellor’s attempts at perjury and false claims, and had exposed the V-C’s incapacity to govern an institution of the size and standard of Mumbai University.
According to his CV, available on Mumbai University’s website, Dr Neeraj Hatekar has been working with the University for 20 years. Since 2008, he has been a Professor. When a senior faculty member made serious allegations against the V-C, the Management Council should have looked into those allegations. If the MC had found the allegations false and/or frivolous and/or motivated, or if his allegations or the manner in which he made them constituted an act of indiscipline, Dr. Hatekar should have been issued a show-cause notice and given a chance to defend himself. Instead, the MC gave the VC their consent to use “emergency powers” to suspend the Professor.
In our country, every person is considered innocent until proven guilty. Even a person accused of crimes like corruption, rape or murder is considered innocent, and it is the responsibility of the prosecution to prove him/her guilty beyond reasonable doubt.
However, Dr. Neeraj Hatekar has been declared guilty until proven innocent. He has “submitted a petition to the High Court, questioning the suspension order and asking for it to be revoked.” His students are supporting him in various ways. In addition to protesting, they have started a signature campaign, are planning to meet the state’s Governor, and are trying to garner the support of students from affiliated colleges. The AAP has supported Dr. Hatekar, but it’s not known how much impact their support will have.
Is there anything we can do, other than hoping that Dr. Neeraj Hatekar gets justice?