GUWAHATI: A social media post by a student has ignited a contentious debate over freedom of expression and accountability within the education system in Assam.
Priyanka Dutta, a student at Gurucharan College in Silchar, took to a social networking website to voice her frustration regarding the delayed release of undergraduate results by Assam University, which ultimately led to her losing admission to Cotton University in Guwahati.
Dutta’s post on August 9 criticised Assam University for the delay in declaring her undergraduate results, preventing her from pursuing higher studies at Cotton University. She not only highlighted her personal predicament but also questioned the university’s persistent issues in delivering timely results, asserting that all other universities in the state managed to do so efficiently.
In response to Priyanka Dutta’s Facebook post, Suprabir Dutta Roy, the Controller of Examinations at Assam University, sent a letter on August 17 to Gurucharan College, urging them to take action against the student for “defaming the Assam University in public”. When the college principal, Bibhas Dev, refrained from responding to the initial letter, Dutta Roy sent a follow-up letter on August 26, threatening to withhold Dutta’s undergraduate examination results if no action was taken.
Principal Bibhas Dev, however, maintained that the college only has the authority to take action against a student for on-campus misconduct and that a social media post does not fall within their jurisdiction. Nevertheless, the college forwarded both letters from Dutta Roy to Priyanka Dutta.
Pradosh Kiran Nath, the registrar of Assam University, expressed ignorance about the letters issued by Suprabir Dutta Roy and questioned whether the university had the power to take punitive measures against a student for a social media post.
This controversy has sparked outrage among students, with Rohit Chanda, a leader of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), condemning the university’s response. Chanda labelled the university’s actions as “undemocratic” and called for the resignation of Dutta Roy.
As the debate rages on, it remains to be seen how Assam University and other stakeholders will navigate this situation.