Varsity professor suspension: Minister seeks report from V-C

Minister for Higher and Technical Education Rajesh Tope on Wednesday sought a detailed report from Rajan Welukar, Vice-Chancellor, Mumbai University, on the suspension of Dr Neeraj Hatekar, 47, and a professor of econometrics in the department of economics, as students organised a massive protest in the Vidyanagari campus in Kalina and teachers from other departments criticised the varsity decision.

Hatekar was suspended on the grounds of 'violating the code of conduct' and for 'moral turpitude' after he openly criticised the varsity administration.

Tope said he had discussed the matter with the V-C and Governor K Sankaranarayanan, who is the chancellor of the university. "Mumbai university is an autonomous body and this is an administrative issue. Secondly, I am unaware of the issue, except for a few details that I have got through news reports. The state government cannot intervene in this matter directly. However, as students and other stakeholders are directly involved in the matter, I have sought a detailed report in the matter from the V-C. I can decide on the next course of action only when I receive the report," Tope said.

Head of the department of economics Ritu Dewan called an emergency faculty meeting on Monday. A resolution against the suspension order has been passed by the teachers and submitted to the V-C.

Support poured in from other departments, too. HoD of statistics Prof Ulhas Dixit criticised Welukar's decision. Smita Gandhi, who heads the geography department, condemned the suspension order stating Hatekar was not given a chance to defend himself.

Meanwhile, the protesting students were detained by the BKC police. They, however, continued to protest at the campus. "We have just one demand revoke the suspension of Hatekar sir," said Amol Kale, a protesting student.

Noted scholar Aroon Tikekar said, "There was no need for Welukar to take objection over Hatekar speaking to media. Hatekar has written to the V-C, the chancellor, the ministers. He even moved court. However, no timely action was taken and he had no option but to approach media. If it was necessary to take action against him, Welukar could have first issued a showcause notice or initiated an inquiry."

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