Investigation into MU crisis begins

IMPHAL,6th Sep: Subsequent to holding the first sitting on Thursday, the two-member independent enquiry committee constituted to investigate into allegations levelled against Manipur University vice-chancellor Prof AP Pandey has directed all concerned to submit his/her statements within September 16.

Along with directing a newly appointed judicial officer to issue notice to all persons acquainted with subject matter of the enquiry (terms of reference) for submission of their statements in the form of a sworn affidavit within the specified deadline, the probe panel emphasised that the affidavit should be enclosed with relevant documents, in original or true copies.

Setting the same parameters and deadline to Manipur University Students’ Union (MUSU), Manipur University Teachers’ Association (MUTA) and Manipur University Staff Association (MUSA) for submitting their statements, a joint statement issued by enquiry committee chairman Justice T Nandakumar and member Prof MK Choudhary informed that the statements in sworn affidavits may be furnished in between 10 am to 5 pm to the office of the committee set up at Classic Hotel, Imphal, Room No. 201.

Preferring submission of the statements in original or true copies, if in possession of the complainants, the panel explained that in case of non-availability of some of the documents, he/she shall state details from where the remaining documents may be procured.

It is informed that the committee after due deliberation as to what would be the convenient procedure has decided to adopt the time tested procedure prescribed under the Commission of Inquiry Act 1952.

In view of the probe entailing due compliance with judicial proceedings and necessary for the committee to issue notices, summons, etc., the committee has decided to rope in the service of retired District and Sessions Judge Laimayum Birendrakumar Sharma for performing ministerial jobs, the statement conveyed.

Further stating that Birendrakumar is authorised to sign summons, notices, etc., issued by the committee, the statement clarified that he will have no say in formulating the final conclusion of the committee. With regard to initiation of the investigation, the committee informed that it had carefully perused the August 17 order issued by the Department of Higher Education, under Ministry of Human Resource Development.

The statement also mentioned that the allegations levelled against Prof Pandey consist as many as 18 points, all of which will be enquired upon within the four corners of the terms of reference. The committee also conveyed that in sync with order of Government of India, it will would be free to device its own procedure for conducting the enquiry and while formulating the final conclusion, the panel would rationally consider the response of the persons concerned in accordance with the principle of natural justice.

Even as the committee members were going through the process of formally launching the investigation, students made a bid to sid to storm the quarter of MU VC professor AP Pandey leading to brief detention of 22 students by police on Thursday.

On the other hand, Manipur University Students’ Union (MUSU) has boycotted professor M Shyamkesho on the charge of disrupting normalcy in the university. MUSU volunteers also burnt effigies of AP Pandey and Shyamkesho during a protest in front of the university gate at about 11 am Thursday. The students also locked down the office of professor M Shyamkesho which is located at the department of life science.

After the protest, a joint meeting of students was held at the office of MUSU. From there, the students came towards Sanjenthong to storm the quarter of VC AP Pandey. However, police stopped them near Sanjenthong. As the students tried to force their way, a brief tussle ensued between students and police with the former shouting slogans denouncing AP Pandey.

Unable to cross the police barricade, the students staged protest in the middle of the road. Police took custody of 22 students and took them to Porompat police station. They were, however, released afterward.

Meanwhile, interacting with media persons, MUSU general secretary Laishram Kennedy said that the protest was organised as announced by the union on Wednesday. The effigies of AP Pandey and M Shyamkesho were burnt to denounce their attempt to disrupt normalcy in the university, he said. The decision to boycott professor Shyamkesho was taken for his supportive actions for VC AP Pandey and subsequent controversial orders issued by him, he added.

He further said that AP Pandey and Shyamkesho shall be held responsible if there is any disruption in the ensuing Master examination. He also demanded authority concerned to issue strong instruction to the both of them to refrain from issuing such virtual notifications or orders in future. While decrying the silence of HRD ministry over the conduct of MU VC professor AP Pandey who is acting in violation of the agreement, Manipuri Students’ Federation (MSF) appealed to MUTA, MUSA and MUSU to opt for a different mode of agitation if necessary without affecting functioning of the university in the larger interest of the entire student community.

In a statement, MSF said that it strongly opposed silence of the ministry over the arrogance of AP Pandey, which has brought the university once again at the brink of another shutdown. It also announced its support to the movement of MUTA, MUSA and MUSU.

However, the previous shutdown had already affected academic career of thousands of students, it noted, while urging the MU community to opt for agitations that would not affect the students and normal functioning of the university. It also appealed to the VC in-charge to take up necessary initiatives for smooth conduct of the pending examinations, fresh admission and declaration of examination results.

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