MU heading for another showdown

IMPHAL: Even as chief minister N Biren reportedly had telephonic conversation with Union human resource development minister Prakash Javadekar to update the latter on the evolving uneasy situation in Manipur University, the varsity is likely to witness fresh agitation on account of the confrontationist stance between vice-chancellor Prof AP Pandey and the MU community.

After a brief semblance of normalcy subsequent to recent signing of the memorandum of agreement on the conduct of investigation into alleged misdemeanour of vice-chancellor Prof AP Pandey, Manipur University community has threatened to resume the agitation in case the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) does not honour the MOA in letter and spirit.

While MU community threatened to resort to agitation, which earlier resulted in shutdown of the varsity for nearly three months, in pursuance of their demand for sacking the vice-chancellor, ‘office orders’ issued by Prof Pandey dated September 1 declared abolition of Manipur University Teachers’ Association (MUTA) and Manipur University Staff Association (MUSA). MU community is a conglomerate of MUTA, MUSA and Manipur University Students’ Union (MUSU).

Invaliding existence of employees’ body such as MUTA and MUSA as per the provision of MU Act, 2015 and directing the finance officer of the varsity to cease transfer of money from salary head to the bank account of MUTA and MUSA, Prof Pandey’s order also prohibited all activities of the two bodies in the university with immediate effect. The same order also charged MUTA and MUSA of direct involvement in subversive activities that led to the ‘current turmoil’ in the university campus and creating indiscipline.

‘It has become inevitable to curb the activities of both MUTA and MUSA to bring the university campus to order and maintain discipline,’ the order mentioned and cautioned that ‘any employee of the university found involved in the activities of MUTA and MUSA will also face disciplinary action as per the service conduct rules’. Copies of the same order were also addressed to secretaries to President of India, Governor of Manipur and MHRD, Manipur chief secretary, commissioner of higher and technical education, DGP, District Magistrate (Imphal West), SP (Imphal West) and Registrar (MU) for necessary measures to maintain varsity tranquillity.

Apparently taken aback by the VC volte face, an emergency joint meeting of MU community held on Sunday resolved to ask the government of Manipur and the MHRD to initiate appropriate action against Prof Pandey within September 4 failing which the agitation kept in suspension would be resumed. The meeting conducted at MUTA office and co-chaired by MUTA president Prof I Tomba, MUSA president S Jibon Singh and MUSU president Mayanglambam Dayaman deliberated on the latest developments related to the university consequent to ‘virtual’ activities in the virtual media being indulged in since September 1 by Prof Pandey.

Noting that Prof Pandey is on leave pending conduct of the enquiry and follow-up action against him in relation to charges of administrative and financial irregularities committed by the VC, the members present expressed heartfelt anguish and absolute displeasure on the characteristically non-academic behaviour of Prof AP Pandey at a time when normalcy is getting restored in MU and with committed hard work by members of the MU community.

According to a joint statement issued by the three presidents, members present emphasised that Prof Pandey seems unhappy with normalcy being restored in the university and the academic path getting reignited.

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