Kolkata: Jadavpur University pro-Vice-Chancellor, academic and noted social commentator Samantak Das has passed away. He was 57.
Das was found at his residence in south Kolkata on the morning of Wednesday, July 20, police said.
Das did not go to the university campus in the morning, it has been reported. When university authorities sent a car to pick him up, his family members knocked on his closed door. When he did not respond, they broke it open to find his body. He was taken to a nearby state-run hospital, where doctors declared him brought dead.
“The body has been sent for post-mortem examination, and further investigation is underway,” an officer of Regent Park Police Station said.
Das was a popular teacher in the Comparative Literature department of the university and headed it from 2007 to 2009. He had joined the department in 2005, and had also helmed the university’s School of Cultural Texts and Records. Earlier, he had taught at the Vishwa-Bharati University at Shantiniketan.
Das was also a frequent columnist and his opinion pieces on various social, cultural and literary issues appeared often on national newspapers. He has also written for The Wire.
His tenure as the pro-VC was scheduled to end in September. Before this, he had also held key posts in the university’s administration.
Tributes have poured in from students and faculty, many of whom gathered at the JU campus to mourn the professor’s death. Many noted his unique connection with students – even through periods of protest where JU students and the administration have faced off.
“The Jadavpur University family today lost one of its most important functionaries who had been a prominent face of the varsity. When I became the JU vice-chancellor in 2015, Samantak Das was among the few people who had made me very comfortable and helped me get accustomed to life in this university. His death is a great loss and has created a void that cannot be filled,” VC Suranjan Das told PTI.
“We are absolutely heartbroken at the untimely demise of Professor Samantak Das he continues to rest in our hearts. We will miss you sir,” Arts Faculty Students Union (AFSU) said in a statement.
Absolutely beyond devastated that our beloved Prof. Samantak Das from Jadavpur University died by suicide today. His classes were the only classes I never missed. So many memories.
You will be forever missed, sir. Forever. pic.twitter.com/1CdseCzvTo
— Saudamini (@thesapphirebook) July 20, 2022
Jadavpur University Teachers’ Association president Partha Pratim Roy said other professors are shattered by the news.
I am heartbroken to hear about Prof Samantak Das. Finding it very difficult to process this
He was an inspirational teacher & I learnt so much from him. Remembering his comparative literature lectures, helping me with my grad applications, the addas on JU ledge
— Dr Rohit K Dasgupta (@RKDasgupta) July 20, 2022
If you know someone – friend or family member – at risk of suicide, please reach out to them. The Suicide Prevention India Foundation maintains a list of telephone numbers they can call to speak in confidence. Icall, a counselling service run by TISS, has maintained a crowdsourced list of therapists across the country. You could also take them to the nearest hospital.
Featured image: Samantak Das. Photo: Twitter/@RKDasgupta
This article was first published on The Wire.
(With PTI inputs)