West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday met Nobel laureate economist Amartya Sen at his home and handed over to him documents of a plot of land which the Visva Bharati University has asked him to vacate.

The university had claimed that Sen is in possession of 1.38 acres of land in Birbhum’s Santiniketan in excess to his legal entitlement of 1.25 acres. It said that the additional plot of land is not part of his family-owned estate.

On Monday, the Trinamool Congress said that Banerjee handed over the documents to Sen to ensure that he is not harassed in future. “Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen’s contribution cannot be overstated,” Banerjee said. “He has glorified not just Bengal but the entire nation and the world at large.”

The chief minister said that in future, the Bharatiya Janata Party “should not dare to belittle him in this manner again”.

She added: “We see Visva Bharati through the eyes of Rabindranath Tagore, and not that of saffronisation.”

Banerjee also ordered allocating Z plus security to Sen, under which 10 security personnel will be provided for mobile security and two for security at his residence, according to The Indian Express.

The economist said that he was surprised by the chief minister’s efforts. “I am surprised that she looked for the old land records and had the zeal… such zeal in a political leader,” he said.

However, Sen said that he did not think the matter would now end with the land records. “Those who want to drive me away from my home, there is politics in their aim,” he claimed. “...I prefer a secular point of view. Those who indulge in communal politics cannot accept that.”

Meanwhile, the university’s Vice-Chancellor Bidyut Chakraborty said that the institution will fight the case in court, The Indian Express reported.

The case

In December 2020, the Visva Bharati, a public central university, had named Sen in a list of illegal plot holders within its premises. The Nobel laureate has a family house in Santiniketan that was built by Kshitimohan Sen, his grandfather and a Sanskrit scholar.

The list includes Sen’s name as his house, Pratichi, occupies around 138 decimals of land while the original lease was given on 125 decimals.

Sen had claimed that the land was leased out to his family for 100 years and some of it was also bought by his father from the market following all rules and regulations.

On Wednesday, the Nobel laureate had said that he does not understand Visva Bharati University’s motive behind asking him to return his property at the Santiniketan campus.

In recent years, Sen has been vocal in his criticism of several policies of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Central government. On January 15, he had said that implementing the Citizenship Amendment Act could reduce the role of minorities in the country, while encouraging majoritarian forces.