IACS faculty, director at loggerheads

Court asks police to keep an eye on the institute

Scientists at the 125-year-old Indian Association for Cultivation of Science—the country’s oldest institute working on fundamental sciences—have been trading allegations involving its director Kankan Bhattacharaya and senior scientist Manju Roy.

Court cases are being fought in Kolkata and the local police station has been instructed by the court to keep an eye on the institute, as both camps are trading charges.

To add to the problem, a number of young meritorious researchers who joined IACS after the end of their study abroad are upset with the administration headed by Bhattacharaya because of a sudden cut in their salary.

They claim their previous five merit increments were ignored following the implementation of the sixth pay commission.

The director, however, has a different take.
“It was a miscalculation by the accounts department, which was brought out in the open by the audit. All researchers signed a declaration that any mistake by the accounts would be liable to adjustment. That’s what we are doing. There is no salary cut,” Bhattacharaya told Deccan Herald.

A meeting of the IACS governing council on Tuesday is likely to witness “protests” against Bhattacharaya whose appointment as the IACS director was opposed by a section in the institute from the beginning.

The director faces harsh criticism on many counts in the last one and a half years, culminating in the Roy incident.

Roy, a 64-year-old cancer researcher of repute, alleged on the last day of her work on December 31, that she was compelled to hand over the keys of her room—full with important documents—to the administration. She filed a general diary in the nearby police station against fellow scientist Arindam Banerjee, who took the keys from her. Banerjee, sources said, was close to the director.

On January 3, when Roy wanted to enter the IACS as CSIR emeritus professor, she was denied entry. Bhattacharaya said he requested her to wait for one day to let him complete the inquiry about her very serious allegation against Banerjee. Roy, however, did not listen and filed another general diary.

Since then, protests and agitations are continuing on the campus where once Raman and K S Krishnan quietly conducted experiments on Raman effect.

Though IACS council president and former CSIR director- general S K Joshi is aware of the developments, there is no visible intervention from him so far. Joshi may be present at Tuesday’s council meeting in Kolkata which may see some fireworks, said a IACS source.
Despite repeated attempts by Deccan Herald, Joshi could not be contacted.

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