In Dramatic 'Comeback', Manipur University V-C Bans 2 Employees' Bodies; Protesters Threaten to Resume Strike
The ban invited sharp reactions from the Manipur University Students’ Union and its stakeholders who questioned if the vice-chancellor was authorised to issue orders at a time when he was placed under leave.
Manipur University (University Website)
Guwahati: The impasse between Manipur University students and vice-chancellor Adya Prasad Pandey continued on Sunday, with Pandey announcing that he had resumed his duties from September 1.
The vice-chancellor’s ‘comeback’ is likely to send ripples across the university where, just 10 days ago, agitating students had suspended their 85-day strike demanding Pandey’s resignation.
Soon after his return, the vice-chancellor banned the two employees’ associations — Manipur University Teachers’ Association (MUTA), the apex body of university teachers, and Manipur University Staff Association (MUSA) — ‘with immediate effect’.
In an official order, it was stated that “it has become inevitable to curb the activities of both MUTA and MUSA to bring the university campus to order and maintain discipline”. A warning was also issued that any employee of the university found indulging in the activities of the two bodies would invite disciplinary action.
The move invited sharp reactions from the Manipur University Students’ Union (MUSU) and its stakeholders who questioned if Pandey was authorised to issue orders at a time when he was placed under leave.
An emergency meeting between the members of MUSU, MUTA and MUSA was convened on Sunday where the bodies resolved to resume their agitation if appropriate action was not taken against Pandey on or before September 4 for his ‘virtual orders’ during his leave period.
In a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) signed between the Union ministry of human resource development and the Manipur government, the state higher and technical education department along with the protesting organisations, it was agreed “that during the period of inquiry and until follow-up action taken on the inquiry report by the competent authority, preferably within a period of 15 days, Prof AP Pandey will be on leave”.
MUSU chief M Dayaman said, “We signed the MoA on August 16 in the presence of Manipur chief minister N Biren Singh. How can the V-C issue such orders? Is he authorised to? Normalcy was slowly returning to the university — the graduation results of the last semester were declared and the university staff was working on Sundays too. The V-C only proves with his actions that he has no regard for the decisions taken by the HRD ministry.”
Calling for Pandey’s resignation over his ‘dictatorship’, MUSU and other stakeholders have decided to consider all orders issued by him during his leave as ‘null and void’ and ‘non-binding’.
“Someone on leave keeps giving virtual orders… Since he is not into academics, he must be restless to notice that classes are in progress at the university in his absence. All college examinations were announced in less than 10 days. We are preparing for exams for all the PG courses,” said professor Amar Yumnam of the university’s economics department.
The students have been protesting since May 30, demanding a probe by an independent enquiry committee against the V-C over allegations of administrative negligence and financial irregularities. However, with Pandey refusing to budge, a resolution seems difficult.
(With inputs from Noren Ningombam)
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