A team of the union human resource development (HRD) ministry will on Wednesday begin looking into student protests over the appointment of a non-tribal as North Eastern Hill University (NEHU) vice chancellor.
The three-member fact-finding team is led by HRD secretary Vibha Puri Das. NEHU students have been protesting since Oct 11, the day A.N. Rai took charge as vice chancellor.
The student community under the banner of NEHU Students Union (NEHUSU) and Meghalaya Tribal Students' Coordination Committee (MTSCC) are demanding that a tribal vice chancellor to head the varsity, one of the country's premier central universities.
The team comprising additional secretary (higher education) Sunil Kumar and University Grants Commission (UGC) vice chairman Ved Prakash is to meet Meghalaya Governor R S Mooshahary, who is also the rector of NEHU, and chief secretary W M S Pariat to discuss the imbroglio which has affected the premier central university, a senior Meghalaya official said.
The Meghalaya government demanded that an HRD team from the centre visit the state to sort out the impasse.
Rai, a former vice chancellor of Mizoram University, was appointed by President Pratibha Patil after Pramod Tandon completed his tenure Sep 12.
"We will not accept Rai as our vice chancellor for his tainted credentials in Mizoram University. We will continue with our non-cooperation movement till the centre appoint a new vice chancellor," Kynpham Kharlyngdoh, chairman of the Coordination Committee, said.
"We want the central government to appoint a tribal vice chancellor to lead NEHU. The university was established to contribute to the development of people of the region and not to extend patronage to a coterie from outside," Kharlyngdoh added.
However, Rai has made it clear he will not bow down to the student pressure.
"Stepping down is not an option. I am here as the vice chancellor on the appointment of the president of India and I am honouring it. If the students are against me, they should approach the concerned authorities," Rai said.
"I am ready to sort any grievances relating to the university," he added.
Earlier, two powerful organisations in Meghalaya - the Khasi Students' Union (KSU) and Federation of Khasi Jaintia and Garo People (FKJGP) - demanded that a tribal candidate be appointed as the vice chancellor.