The Vice Chancellor of Jadavpur University, Abhijit Chakrabarti, is never far from controversy. Already under fire from students and teachers for letting loose the police on peaceful protesters on campus in September, Chakrabarti is now facing allegations of plagiarising research.

The plagiarism charges, brought last month by the Jadavpur University Teachers Association, have been reportedly checked by the Society of Scientific Values, an independent body of scientists aiming to uphold ethics in research. This has further amplified calls for Chakrabarti’s resignation.

According to the allegations, Chakrabarti, who is an electrical engineer, co-authored a scientific article presented at 2011 INDICON, the annual conference of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Titled “Implementation of Genetic Algorithm and Modified Shuffled Frog Leaping Algorithm for Transmission Loss Minimum Re-scheduling”, Chakrabarti’s paper allegedly included text copied verbatim from another article without giving it credit. That other article, titled “A Combination of Shuffled Frog-Leaping Algorithm and Genetic Algorithm for Gene Selection”, was authored by Cheng-San Yang and five others from Taiwan University in 2011.

The paper allegedly also included passages from one of Chakrabarti’s own previous works, titled “Genetic Algorithm based transmission loss optimization under deregulated environment”, which was published in 2010 in ACEEE International Journal on Control System and Instrumentation.

Unfit to stay

The charges have further incensed Jadavpur students and fuelled demands for Chakrabarti’s resignation. “The plagiarism allegation makes him unfit to stay in the university,” said Nilanjana Majumder, a postgraduate student of English Literature at Jadavpur.

Apart from plagiarism, there are also academic and administrative charges against Chakrabarti.

The vice chancellor was already under fire for the police brutality on campus on September 17. On that day, a group of students peacefully sitting in protest against the authorities’ apathy over the sexual assault on a student on campus in August was beaten up by the police. Despite the ensuing demands for Chakrabarti’s ouster, the West Bengal governor appointed him for a full four-year term on October 7.

Campus referendum

Last week, to press their demand for Chakrabarti's resignation, they held a referendum on several issues – the vice chancellor’s continuation at the university; a judicial investigation into the molestation case; and the installation of cameras around the campus.

Over 96% of arts and engineering students voted for Chakrabarti’s resignation in the referendum. Out of the total 7,100 responses, over 88% opposed surveillance and policing on the campus.

The exercise was supervised by human rights activist Sujato Bhadra and lawyer Ruby Mukherjee. “The Society for Scientific Values declared that plagiarism actually took place, much after the referendum results were out in the arts faculty,” said Srishti Dutta, a student at the university. “The referendum is our only way to prove that students want the vice chancellor to go.”

Dutta added: “We shall use the results to negate the vice chancellor’s claims that only 20% students supported the movement.”

Teachers’ support

The Jadavpur University Teachers’ Association has supported the students’ call for Chakrabarti’s removal. The teachers as well as former faculty of the university are among the signatories of a petition condemning Chakrabarti’s actions submitted to the governor last month.

“Barring one or two teachers who are not openly supporting the protests, most do not support Chakrabarti’s position,” said Majumder, the English student. “The pro-vice chancellor and the head of the philosophy department have resigned to register their protest.”