Manipur University row: Police arrests 90 students

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Manipur University row: Police arrests 90 students, 5 faculty members in midnight raids; V-C AP Pandey under fire for appointment of deputy

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In the latest case of university campus unrest, midnight raids were reported at the Manipur University campus. Social media feed and local reports said that students were being attacked with tear gas shells. According to the local papers, Manipur Police had arrested at least 90 students, along with a few faculty members. All of this happened after Pro Vice-Chancellor Y Yugindro Singh, appointed by vice-chancellor AP Pandey — who is on a leave — entered the university complex to take charge as the V-C on Thursday afternoon. According to the Imphal Times' report, V-C Pandey also accompanied Singh as they entered the campus with security personnel and arms.

According to sources, about 90 students have been arrested from the hostels and many have been injured during the incident. Five faculty members have also been taken into custody following massive tear gas and mock bomb attacks and the university is under sieze of Armed Forces and Police Commandos since midnight with combing operations still going on.

"Manipur University is under attack and students are being terrorised and arrested by around 200 armed police since midnight. Twenty students including faculty have been arrested. Students are being paraded outside their hostels to identify those waging war against cops," tweeted one Twitter user.

After 85-days of standoff at the university recently, normalcy had returned to the campus in the last few days. However, this incident has rattled the students and the faculty members again. "Students appearing in Thursday’s examination were mentally disturbed and failed to concentrate with the new development. Meanwhile, students who came to take the admission form had to return home as the counter was shut down in protest against the incident," the report said. Later, a meeting was held between the Pro V-C, registrar in-charge Professor Shyamkesho and the university members, Imphal Times reported.

The local papers in Manipur have claimed that the HRD ministry has "every knowledge of the independent inquiry committee that has been set up. The ministry has also been told that the the registrar in-charge Professor Dorendrojit Singh is currently the nodal officer of the enquiry committee. The report says that as per the MoA signed by MHRD on 16 August, VC Pandey was suspended on 17 September till the completion of the enquiry against him and thus Pro V-C Singh should take charge in his absence. Pandey had returned from his leave to resume office from 1 September but was asked to extend his leave till 9 September.

The leave extension was allowed in the wake of the warning issued by the university community that they will resume the shutdown since Pandey's orders and appointments done during the period of his leave were illegal and not acceptable to the community. However, Pandey refused to accept the extension saying that it was issued by someone below his rank. “How can anybody accept an order issued by a junior member against their superior," a report in The Indian Express quoted him as saying. Moreover, he claimed to have not received any official intimation from the MHRD or the Manipur government, on the details of the agreement about the enquiry committee and his leave. He further blamed the situation prevailing in the campus, to the influence of the teachers’ body. “I know my students very well, they have been misguided by the teachers,” he claimed.

The community, however, is arguing that since as per the Clause 4 of the 'Statutes of the University, MU Act 2005', "a pro vice chancellor can only be appointed by the executive council on the recommendation of the VC, thst is, the vice chancellor can’t unilaterally appoint someone as PVC”. Thus, VC Pandey doesn’t have the legal authority to appoint a PVC since he was on official leave (without the acceptance his PVC nominee by the executive council of Manipur University).

So, according to the university community, MHRD’s and Shyamkesho’s notification and recognising PVC Singh is "illegal" and hence, unacceptable by them. The representatives of the university community further stated that provided that where the recommendation of the Vice-Chancellor is not accepted by the Executive Council, the matter shall be referred to the visitor who may either appoint the person recommended by the Vice-Chancellor or ask the Vice-Chancellor to recommend another person to the executive council, i.e. can appoint a professor to discharge the duties of a Pro-Vice-Chancellor in addition to his own duties as a professor, according to the report.

The report says that in the PVC appointment notification, VC Pandey had mentioned the term “in anticipation of the approval of the executive council”, which means, that the executive council hasn’t held a meeting on the of appointment of a PVC and neither such a nominee recommendation has been formally accepted by the executive council of the Manipur University. "Please let everyone know, if otherwise, the executive council’s meeting date/time and minutes of meeting note to substantiate the proof of acceptance of Singh as PVC," the university community members demanded.

However, reports say that the issue can only be resolved after the court directives regarding the forced leave and the MoA signed between the MHRD, Government of Manipur and Manipur University community is challenged by Pandey. However, the hearing which was supposed to be held on Wednesday was defered after a similar Special Leave Petition (SLP) was filed by Pandey in the Supreme Court.

Apparently, the VC in-charge Prof. Vishwanath wrote a letter to the MHRD secretary urging for clarification on the legitimacy of the order by Shyamkesho in the capacity of the Registrar in-charge, when Dolendro has already been acting as the Registrar in-charge and is also presently serving as the nodal officer of the enquiry committee. According to his letter, Shaymkesho had applied for a casual leave when the university re-opened on 23 August, the report states.

Meanwhile, according to The Indian Express's report, V-C Pandey has said that he is "ready to face any sort of inquiry, provided the probe committee is impartial". He has claimed that the chairman of the inquiry committee constituted by the ministry is a relative of one of the key members of the Manipur University Teachers Association (MUTA), the report said. He is facing an enquiry following the incidents of violence on the campus.

Updated Date: Sep 21, 2018 11:04 AM