Kolkata: An Associate Professor from Kolkata’s Jadavpur University was abused by a student on social media recently. The student, from Bengali department of Bethune College, attacked the Professor on her Santhali Adivasi heritage. Professor Murmu is an Associate Professor of History at Jadavpur University and has been working there for the past fifteen years.
On Wednesday, Dr. Murmu posted on her Facebook wall expressing her opinion on the government’s decision to conduct exams across the country amidst the COVID-19 crisis.
“A year’s loss is not worth sacrificing your entire life,” she wrote in her post. The Bethune College student, Paromita Ghosh responded in the comments’ section writing, “It’s not about losing one year but about how some unqualified people are taking undue advantage of the reservation system and their caste is now helping them be successful rendering the others jobless. Our parents are stepping out, taking a risk every day, while you are sitting at home and getting paid for doing nothing. I ask you this as a student.”
Not only that, Ghosh also put up a post on her Facebook profile saying, “Today morning, just reminded one ‘Murmu’ a Santhal about her Adivasi lineage. That too in a polite manner. But some people like her, just made me realize that so-called professors are getting fat simply drawing paychecks.”
When the head of the history department at Bethune shared a solidarity statement in support of Prof. Murmu, she faced incessant trolling and hate comments too. Eventually, she removed the statement. The Bethune College students’ union issued a statement extending support to Prof. Murmu.
Professor Murmu was appalled but not shocked as she has been at the receiving end of casteist and racist slurs almost on a daily basis. “I don’t even know her; I had expressed my opinion on something that is being debated across the country. She did not comment on anything on that matter but went on commenting on my identity and how reservation gets us [Adivasis] jobs and how we do not deserve those or have the ability to teach,” she told The Wire.
“Do I not have the right to express my opinion on any issue without someone ‘rebuking’ me for being an Adivasi?” Professor Murmu added.
Professor Mumru, after passing her undergraduate degree in Presidency College, went on to receive M.A, M.Phil and Ph.D. from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. She is the author of the book Her Own: Women Authors in Nineteenth-Century Bengal, published by the Oxford University Press. She also writes extensively on caste question in Bengal and environmental issues.