The human resource development ministry has refused to back down from the nomination of foreign policy expert Amitabh Mattoo as Vice-Chancellor of Jammu central university, despite law and order concerns raised by the state administration.
Asked by the President’s secretariat for its views on Mattoo’s nomination, the HRD ministry plans to respond by asserting that it finds nothing wrong with his selection despite protests in Jammu, top government sources have told HT.
The President, as Visitor, has to approve the appointment of all Vice-Chancellors to central universities and sought the HRD ministry’s views after the state administration indicated its discomfort with Mattoo.
The Centre’s decision on Mattoo will provide an insight into whether the government is willing to concede academic ground – the selection of a VC based on merit – to street protesters with no academic credentials.
But the government here will also have to consider any law and order implications in a state caught in a cycle of violence over the past three months.
As reported by HT on July 23, the state chief secretary had written to the HRD
ministry submitting a report from the Jammu divisional commissioner expressing concerns that appointing Mattoo as VC could lead to law and order problems.
The state administration’s apprehensions followed street protests and petitions against Mattoo by opponents alleging that the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) professor was pro-separatist and not a true representative of Jammu.
Government sources here argued that many of the petitions against Mattoo appeared motivated and borne out of an intention to have someone else appointed as Vice Chancellor in his place.