The students of Manipur University have been agitating since May 30. The protesting students’ union has been demanding the removal of vice-chancellor Adya Prasad Pandey. The University’s teaching and non-teaching staff too have backed the protests. The Indian Express reports that all of the deans and 28 heads of the departments at the University have resigned.
The postgraduate students and teachers started a hunger strike on July 9. Manipur University Teachers’ Association spokesperson, Prof M Ranjit said, “The hunger strike will continue till 24 July,” as reported by Firstpost.
Due to this, several activities like the declaration of undergraduate results, admissions for postgraduate courses and verification of certificates for jobs students apply, are put on hold.
Allegations against V-C
It is being alleged that Pandey, who took the office one and a half years ago barely visits the university. He is said to be on frequent outstation visits but not for University-related work. L Shanjukumar, secretary of the University teachers’ association told The Scroll, “He is saying he has gone to UGC (University Grants Commission) meeting, but then on Facebook he uploads pictures where he is attending political meetings and visiting Hindu temples.”
Before joining as the V-C at Manipur University, Pandey worked as the head of the economics department at the Banaras Hindu University (BHU).
Several have come ahead and spoken about his alleged closeness with the members of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), an organisation affiliated to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). NN Singh, who, in the wake of protests resigned as the head of the university’s physics department, said, “He meets political party leaders and ABVP members. His office had become a meeting point for political party leaders and he was neglecting his duties at the university.”
However, ABVP members have refuted the claims saying that their relationship with V-C is “like any student-teacher relationship”
The students and teachers say that multiple attempts to meet and have a discussion with the V-C to resolve the issue internally have failed. Pandey enjoys a Y-category security which he was granted after he received an extortion note. Mayanglambam Dayaman, president of the Manipur University Students’ Union (MUSU), said, “The problem is that there is always at least one security person with a very big gun standing behind him.”
Dayaman said that Pandey has not appointed a permanent librarian, a controller of examinations and a registrar since he has joined. He has been termed inept and incompetent in handling University matters. Dayaman also accused Pandey of employing a Lucknow-based firm at an exorbitant rate to build “smart classrooms”. He said, “Apart from that, he also started procuring answer sheets from another firm in Lucknow at a rate much higher than what a local firm was already supplying.”
V-C dismisses allegations
Pandey has dismissed all the allegations, saying, “I am a pure academician.”
He also said that he holds no official position in any right-wing organisation, but admitted to having attended some of their functions. “[They were for] meetings with UGC [University Grants Commission] or the ministry, or meetings with the President [of India],” says Pandey when asked about his trips.
It is to be noted that Pandey’s wife, Veena Pandey is a former member of Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council and had contested the Lok Sabha elections on a BJP ticket in 2004, but was unsuccessful.
He also said that the students were being misguided by teachers with vested interests. He said, “They want to get contracts for all kinds of work in the university, but since that has stopped since I joined, they are upset with me.”
He has also alleged that he is being singled out as he is not a local.
Pandey has also said that he would not be resigning and is ready to face an enquiry. As per the statement issued by him on Sunday, he said that he was in constant touch with Manipur CM N Biren Singh and Governor Najma Heptulla. This has further irked the protesting students who say that their V-C, instead of engaging with the students is instead saying that he is in touch with CM and Governor.
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