Police act tough against Manipur University protesters seeking V-C’s ouster

Teachers and students of the Manipur University are on a relay hunger strike, which began on July 9, demanding the removal of VC Adya Prasad Pandey.

india Updated: Aug 04, 2018 17:28 IST
Sobhapati Samom
Sobhapati Samom
Hindustan Times, Imphal
Manipur University,Protests,Manipur University V-C
Police at the entrance gate of Manipur University in Imphal on August 4.(HT Photo)

After preventing a ‘silent solidarity rally’ of opposition parties on Friday, police removed a temporary shed later in the night which protesters in Manipur University were using to stage a relay hunger strike to press their demand for the removal of Vice Chancellor Adya Prasad Pandey.

“A team of policemen came around midnight and removed the temporary shed where the university students, teachers and others stage hunger strike,” a security guard at the University’s main gate said.

However, teachers and students of the Manipur University continued to stage relay hunger strike demanding the removal of Pandey inside the campus Saturday morning. The relay hunger strike began on July 9.

V-C Adya Prasad Pandey is facing calls for resignation from students and teachers over allegations ranging from administrative negligence to misuse of varsity funds. Pandey who went on a month-long leave on Thursday, has claimed that the accusations are ‘false allegation’ and refused to step down from his post.

The District Magistrate of Imphal West district imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC in the district to prohibit any form of rallies or procession beginning 1 pm of Friday amid concerns over the deteriorating conditions on the Manipur University campus.

The academic activities at the central university have been under suspension since May 30 after Manipur University Students Union (MUSU) launched indefinite shutdown demanding Pandey’s removal over allegations of financial and administrative irregularities, including regular “unofficial” tours and violation of the University Act. The agitation is backed by Manipur University Teachers Association (MUTA) and Manipur University Staffs Association (MUSA).

The one-month granted to the VC evoked sharp reaction from MUTA and MUSA. President S Jibankumar of MUSA alleged that the move was “contradictory” to the service rules and did not mention the reason for the leave while L Sanjukumar, Secretary of MUTA said that the varsity community opposed giving leave to Pandey when the state is agitating for his ouster for two months. He also claimed that W Vishwanath Singh, the sebior most professor has already declined to perform the duty of the V-C.

On Thursday, Registrar in charge M Shyamkesho Singh of the Manipur University issued an order to grant leave for one month from August 2, 2018 to Prof Pandey as authorized by the HRD ministry.

As per the statute 2(6) of the Manipur University Act, 2005, the senior most Professor shall perform the duties of the V-C if the office of the V-C becomes vacant, the order said. W Vishwanath Singh is the senior most professor.

On July 17, the ministry had also re-constituted fact finding committee by including a retired judge of high court of Meghalaya following request from a delegation led by Manipur Chief Minister N Biren to conduct an enquiry into the allegations. However, the agitators have stuck to their demand of Pandey’s removal and an enquiry by an independent body.

Pandey, a professor of economics at Banaras Hindu University (BHU), was appointed as the head of Manipur University in October 2016.

First Published: Aug 04, 2018 14:44 IST