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10-hr-long meeting ends with reinstatement of suspended professor

The meeting between Mumbai University’s management council and its vice-chancellor to resolve the impasse surrounding Dr Neeraj Hatekar’s suspension started at 4 pm on Saturday and continued till 2 am yesterday

A marathon 10-hour-long meeting between the Management Council (MC) of Mumbai University (MU) and its Vice-Chancellor (V-C) Dr Rajan Welukar on Saturday brought an end to the suspension of Dr Neeraj Hatekar. The V-C will be sending the letter to Professor Hatekar today.

Neeraj Hatekar

Professor Hatekar was suspended on January 4 for criticising the V-C and the university management at a press conference on December 20. During his suspension, he was not allowed to step into the Department of Economics, take classes or perform any administrative work.

The suspension was met with widespread protest from his students and other educational bodies in the state. Matters came to a head when the students invited Professor Hatekar to deliver his lectures outside the gates of the Kalina campus of the varsity.

With no resolution in sight, the state’s governor K Sankaranarayanan finally intervened and met V-C Welukar on January 16. After the meeting, Welukar called for a management council meeting on Saturday.
The meeting started at 4 pm and ended at 2 am the next morning. At the meeting, the MC members entreated the V-C to give Prof Hatekar a chance to explain his side. It also appointed DG Deshpande, a retired judge of the Bombay High Court, as an inquiry officer. Deshpande will conduct a departmental probe into the matter and submit a report.

Leeladhar Bansod, deputy registrar, MU, said, “There were 18 members present in the MC meeting with the V-C on Saturday. It started at 4 pm and finished at 2 am. In the meeting, the members discussed how the 16 points of mismanagement in the MU, as pointed out by Hatekar, were untrue.

The MC also resolved that the decision taken by council and V-C to suspend Hatekar was appropriate and in accordance with the rules. Still, for the sake of students and public emotions the MC has recommended that the suspension of Hatekar be revoked. Moreover, the retired Bombay High Court judge DG Deshpande formed a one-person committee. Since the university is closed on Sunday, we could not send the letter to Hatekar, but it will reach him tomorrow.”

Meanwhile, the University Community for Democracy and Equality (UCDE) has decided to conduct a victory march at 9 am today. It has also parted ways with the group SAVE MU, which is scheduled to sit on a one-day hunger strike today, along with members of the Joint Action Front. The striking students have a list of 30 demands that they have submitted to the governor, only one of which was the cancellation of Hatekar’s suspension. Their campaign will continue for the other 29 unfulfilled demands, they said.

Student bodies speak
We are very happy that Prof Hatekar has been reinstated by the university, and for that we are holding a victory march at 9 am on Monday. We are going to visit all the departments in the Kalina campus and hand out our victory pamphlets. Since his suspension has been revoked, we will not be a part of the hunger strike with other groups of students, as our campaign was only for Professor Hatekar. - Prashant Singh, MU student and member of UCDE

We are happy that MU has revoked the suspension of Prof Hatekar. However, the revocation of the suspension of Professor Hatekar is only one of our demands, and the movement will not end with his reinstatement. The students had submitted a charter of demands to the Governor of Maharashtra last week. We are firm on our stand that those demands must be met. - Mahendra Adhav, MU student and member of SAVE MU and Joint Action Front

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