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Jadavpur University professor faces casteist abuse on social media

PTI | Kolkata | Updated: 06-09-2020 16:38 IST | Created: 06-09-2020 16:38 IST
Jadavpur University professor faces casteist abuse on social media

A professor of Jadavpur University has been subjected to casteist attacks on social media for a post about conducting final semester exams during the COVID-19 pandemic. Jadavpur University Teachers Association (JUTA) and All Bengal University Teachers Association (ABUTA) on Sunday condemned the "vicious casteist trolling" of Maroona Murmu, an associate professor of history of JU for an innocuous post on Facebook.

On September 2, Murmu was subjected to a volley of casteist abuse on social media when she wrote in a Facebook post about the need to postpone the final semester exams as "one year cannot be more precious than someone's entire life." This triggered a comment by a third year student of Bethune College on her wall that "such thinking stems from quota-centric state of mind" implying that Murmu had academically benefitted being a tribal. A hurt Murmu, who did her undergraduate studies at Presidency College before doing research at JNU, expressed anguish in her reply how her opinion as an individual was ignored by a female student and wondered if someone can be called incompetent and undeserving if he/she carries a tribal surname.

This invited more trolling as many others supported the young third year student of Bethune College while support also poured in for the professor. The Bethune College Students' Committee posted a statement on social media saying, "it is extremely disheartening and condemnable that a student of our college is still unaware of the caste dynamics in India and the need of reservations for the underprivileged. The incident in question is extremely shameful and has brought the institution into disrepute.

"Therefore on behalf of the students of Bethune College, the students committee unequivocally condemns, the comment by the third year student of the institution and resolves to stand by Dr Murmu and the struggle of all Dalits in our campus, state and country," the statement said. The JUTA said in a statement on Saturday "an innocuous comment by Professor Murmu regarding the decision to conduct terminal semester exams during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, caused a torrent of abuse to be unleashed against her on the basis of her ethnic origin." "Her abusers have challenged among other things her qualifications to teach in one of India's premier universities. Such an attack questioning the qualifications and integrity of Professor Murmu is an attack on every teacher, not just in Jadavpur University but anywhere in the country," JUTA general Secretary Partha Pratim Ray said in the statement.

"JUTA believes that every individual has the right to express his/her personal opinion on any matter, but never in a manner that vilifies an individual for belonging to a particular community, ethnicity, caste, class or religion," the statement said. The ABUTA in a similar statement condemned the trolling of Murmu by a college student and 200 others subsequently on social media who are making hate speeches against her and the entire community of dalit students and teachers.

"She is the victim of fascist forces who want to vitiate the air of free thinking and crush liberal forces," the left teacher association said. Murmu in several posts thanked the teachers' bodies, several rights groups and individuals for expressing solidarity with her.


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