VC i/c writes to HRD; many flay police brutality

IMPHAL,8th Aug: Conveying that he is unable to perform his duties fully because of the prevailing condition in Manipur University, Vice Chancellor in-charge Prof W Vishwanath Singh has written to MHRD secretary R Subrahmanyam urging him to take up necessary action for resolving the present crisis in the varsity in the interest of all concerned.

In the letter dated August 8, 2018; Prof Vishwanath mentioned that he had assumed the office of Vice Chancellor i/c of Manipur University with effect from August 3 following an order of the Manipur University office issued on August 2, 2018. However, Prof AP Pandey who has been on leave has been performing as VC of MU outside the state, much to the shock and surprise of all. On the other hand, the three main bodies of the university namely Manipur University Teachers’ Association (MUTA), Manipur University Students’ Union (MUSU) and Manipur University Staff Association (MUSA) have been on agitation seeking removal of Prof AP Pandey since May 30, 2018 over allegations of administrative and financial irregularities.

Although the MHRD has constituted a fact finding committee on July 7 to conduct the probe, the agitators refused to co-operate with the committee and insisted on constituting an independent high power committee under the Commission of Enquiry Act, 1952. Further, the agitators wished that the leave granted to Prof AP Pandey be related to the enquiry, conveyed Prof Vishwanath and sought a reply from the secretary within two days in view of the burning problems in the university.

He also pointed out that the academic and official activities of the varsity have been paralysed due to the crisis and the entire teaching-learning process and official functioning of the varsity as well as in 93 colleges affiliated to the varsity affected. He further mentioned that the university is unable to declare results of the 6th semester examinations of the colleges till date.

Meanwhile, MU community has strongly condemned the brutality of state security forces in strongest term while claiming that the forces are targeting its members as if they are insurgents or terrorists. According to a joint statement of MUTA and MUSA, the university community felt disturbed and anguished by the acts of the state forces during the last three days. On Monday, the police intentionally bombarded the university campus with tear gas shells and other explosives to disperse crowd in order to serve the interests of anti-university groups. This had caused injuries to students and staff of the university. On the same day, damage was caused on the southern gate of the varsity by the police personnel and put a lock of their own with a warning that none should open it. On Tuesday, the campus was surrounded by a huge contingent of the state police as if there was soon going to be an ambush or war. In the afternoon on Wednesday, the police personnel frisked everybody coming out of the varsity campus.

These recent manifestations of brute behaviour and power targeting the members of the MU community led the community to feel that the police forces are planning to create an atmosphere facilitating re-enactment of fake encounters in and around MU campus. As such, the community asked if the state government is trying to turn lie of a BJP member saying that Manipur University is a ‘den of insurgents’ into truth by dubious means. The state government should stop show of strength by the state police immediately, added the joint statement.

A joint meeting of the MU community held on Wednesday in the office of MUTA with its president Prof I Tomba Singh in the chair, also reaffirmed the resolution adopted on Tuesday with regard to the demand for constituting an independent high power committee or commission under the Commission of Enquiry Act, 1952 to probe into the financial and administrative irregularities against Prof AP Pandey on or before August 14.

On the other hand, United All Club Communities’ Social Up-Lifters, Kangleipak (UNACSU) and Ethno Heritage Council (HERICOUN) have expressed anger over the excessive action and hostility shown to the Manipur University community by the state forces.

Enraged over the excessive action of the state police in controlling the agitating MU community, HERICOUN claimed that the mass protest conducted on Monday targeting the MU guided by state police has clearly shown that the movement was a counter movement planned by the government supporters. It is a challenge to the CSOs of the state since the mass protest was marching towards the varsity instead of having any contact with the MU community. It created a psychological threat among the MU community while insulting the CSOs of the state.

The state police foiled the protest conducted by political parties but supported the said mass protest and assaulted the members of MU community instead, noted HERICOUN vice-president L Sanajaoba Meetei. It is also questionable how Prof Pandey and his UGC team inspected St Joseph College at Nagaland while being on leave. This clearly showed that the HRD ministry is insincere and protecting VC Pandey.

Meanwhile, it would be better on the part of the MU authority or government to conduct the probe by an independent committee constituted under the Commission of Enquiry Act, 1952 as demanded by the MU community instead of the Fact Finding Committee. The state government and Union government should resolve the prevailing issue at the earliest instead of keeping busy on planning for counter attack. Only a logical solution could bring an end to the existing MU issue, Sanajaoba said.

In a statement, UNACSU publicity secretary Th Bangkim alleged that the government is creating division among the hill and valley people over the prevailing MU impasse in order to prove that the agitating MU community is wrong. The BJP led coalition government is responsible for indulging in communal politics. It is the right time to stand united and teach a lesson to the government for its dirty politics of trying to save Prof AP Pandey.

While cautioning that if the university issue is not resolved by the people unitedly, the state government will continue to indulge in such activities in future, Bangkim called upon the different communities settling in the state to unitedly stand together. He also urged all concerned not to cause any threat to vice chancellor i/c Prof W Vishwanath.

Local Surrounding People of Manipur University, Canchipur (LSPOMUC) also strongly condemned the police action against MU Community while blaming the government for discrimination against MU community. However, the association urged the community to stick to their demand while extending full support. It also urged all concerned to hold discussion on the attitude of the government towards the agitators.

Meanwhile, in a statement, AISF has announced launching of a nation-wide protest at different universities of country including the state on Thursday for removal of Prof AP Pandey and to save Manipur University.

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