Last week, the university wrote to Bengal govt claiming the Nobel laureate had illegally occupied its land. However, Mamata spoke in Sen’s favour and said he was being targeted for his ‘anti-BJP stance’

File photo of Amartya Sen.

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Kolkata: Nobel laureate Amartya Sen on Monday thanked West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee for supporting him after his family was accused by the Visva Bharati of being in “illegal” possession of land on the campus, and said her strong voice is a tremendous source of strength.

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In his letter, the eminent economist thanked Banerjee for taking out time from her busy schedule, and “reassuring people under attack”.

“I am very happy indeed to get your wonderfully supportive letter. I am not only most touched, but also very reassured that despite the busy life you have to lead, you can find time for reassuring people under attack. Your strong voice, along with your full understanding of what is going on, is for me, a tremendous source of strength.

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“May I send you my deep appreciation of the warmth of your extremely kind letter. I also take the liberty of conveying to you as my thanks as well as my personal affection and admiration,” he wrote.

A controversy had erupted last Thursday, the day Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the centenary celebrations of Visva Bharati when media reported that the university has written to the West Bengal government alleging dozens of land parcels owned by it were wrongfully recorded in the names of private parties, including Sen.

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The Nobel laureate had said that the university land on which his house stands is on a long-term lease, which is nowhere near its expiry.

The chief minister had reacted angrily to the media reports, saying Sen was being subjected to “such vicious attack by the present university authorities because of his idelogical anti-BJP stance”. Banerjee had offered apology to Sen on behalf of the state and also wrote a letter to him, asking him to consider her a “sister and friend” in his war against “intolerance and totalitarianism”.

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The noted economist had accused the Visva Bharati vice-chancellor of acting at the behest of the Centre “with its growing control over Bengal”. Amartya Sen”s maternal grandfather Kshitimohan Sen was a pupil at Santiniketan that evolved into a university over time, and was honoured with ”Deshikottam”, a coveted award, in 1952. Kshitimohan Sen was the award”s first recipient.

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