Manipur University is in shutdown for the last several weeks as students and teachers demand the ouster of vice chancellor Adya Prasad Pandey. The Manipur University Students’ Union (MUSU), which is spearheading the agitation since May 30, has claimed that since Pandey assumed office in October 2016, gross mismanagement in academic and administrative fields have affected students and staff. The Manipur University Teachers Association (MUTA) and Manipur University Staff Association (MUSA) are supporting the demand; six deans and all 32 heads of department have resigned.
MUSU’s charges against Pandey include financial and administrative irregularities, frequent absenteeism and a violation of Section 22 of the Manipur University Act, 2005, which makes it mandatory to assess the current financial year’s performance and prepare annual objectives for the future.
On June 24, Pandey clarified: “I will not tender my resignation. I am here to serve the university”. He also dismissed the allegations as false. Amar Yumnam, HoD, Economics, says that repeated warnings to Pandey have failed and that teachers were left with no other option. “Since the agitation has not resulted in an appropriate response, the HoDs had to join the general demand”, he says. The students and teaching community have commenced a relay hungerstrike from July 9, and the 86 colleges affiliated to the university have closed down.
MUSU president M. Dayaman says they would settle for nothing less than Pandey’s resignation. “We are aware of Pandey and his despotic administration; our allegations aren’t false. We feel the BJP-led government is siding with the VC instead of looking at the facts,” he says. A 48-hour state-wide bandh called by the MUSU commenced from July 17 midnight to press for the VC’s ouster.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister N. Biren Singh met Union HRD minister Prakash Javadekar in New Delhi to apprise him of the imbroglio. Sources say he had urged Javadekar to review the members of the fact-finding panel tasked to probe the charges against Pandey. The HRD ministry had constituted the committee on July 12, with UGC officer J.K. Tripathy and HRD ministry official Surat Singh as members. MUTA feels the inquiry committee is not credible and says its members are acquaintances of Pandey.
The non-declaration of semester exams has also riled students, some of whom stormed the CM’s bungalow in protest. Students warn of more intense agitations if their demand to oust the VC is not met.
By Chaoba Paojel in Imphal