It all started with Anil Wilson’s appointment as Himachal Pradesh University vice-chancellor last year. Wilson was then principal of St Stephen’s College. Wilson was going away for a period of three years and wanted to return to the college after finishing his tenure and so he applied for leave.
In the meanwhile, he reportedly suggested that vice-principal Jacob Cherian could manage things as the officiating principal. There were others, including then college Supreme Council chairman Karam Masih, who felt that an absent principal would do damage to the college.
Rev Valson Thampu was appointed officer-on-special duty of the college and Wilson asked to resign. “I resigned because I understood that this would be good for the college. But what then chairman Bishop Karam Masih did not tell me was that he would appoint Thampu as OSD. They asked me to resign so they could appoint a full-fledged principal which they never did,” Wilson told HT from Shimla.
Wilson said the appointment of Thampu as OSD was against the college constitution and DU norms.
Thampu, who was then heading the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions, was brought in by the Supreme Council to hold fort till a regular principal was appointed amid protests that the appointment of an OSD was not provided for in the college constitution. Thampu, however, did not resign from his position at NCMEI, which developed into a controversy at a later stage. He finally had to give up his position at NCMEI.
Things did not cool down even after Wilson’s resignation. One of the issues that brought Wilson and Thampu face to face once again was the fact that the former continued to hold on to the principal’s official residence. Thampu demanded that the residence be vacated, as Wilson no longer held the post.
The polarisation within the college’s faculty became more apparent with some teachers claiming victimisation on account of their proximity to Wilson. The confrontation went on to become a public tussle between Thampu and two teachers of the history department – Sangeeta Luthra Sharma and Tashneem Suhrawardy – who were accused of distributing “scurrilous literature” in class. Thampu had issued them show cause notices, which led to the teachers approaching DUTA and public demonstration at the college. The show cause notices were later withdrawn.