Two days after the Centre formed a committee to look into the charges levelled against Manipur University Vice-Chancellor Adya Prasad Pandey, the agitators at the institute have refused to cooperate with the panel, terming the move as “a ploy to undermine democratic movement”.
The academic activities at the central university have been under suspension for the past 45 days as the students and the teachers are agitating here for the removal of the V-C over his alleged failure to appoint members in important posts, and administrative negligence.
The HRD ministry instituted a fact-finding committee on July 12, with University Grant Commission (UGC) joint secretary J K Tripathy as the head, to inquire into the allegations against Pandey. The panel is supposed to submit its report one month from the date of the issuance of the order.
Around 4.30 pm on Saturday, the students and other staff members burned effigies of Tripathy, Union Minister Prakash Javedkar, and Deputy Secretary (central university division), HRD ministry, Surat Singh, at the main entrance gate of the University as a mark of protest.
“We are deeply anguished and disheartened by the nature of the committee,” said a functionary of Manipur University Students’ Union (MUSU).
“The constitution of this committee is a ploy to undermine our democratic movement, an appeasement attempt to divert attention from the true nature of the demand,” he said.
In a joint statement issued last night, the MUSU, Manipur University Teachers’ Union and a staff association resolved to intensify the agitation, if an independent probe committee, headed by a retired judge of a High Court, is not formed at the earliest. “It is an insincere attempt by the MHRD the committee would not be given any cooperation,” the statement said.
The associations also pointed fingers at the registrar in-charge of the university, Shyamkesho, who, they believe, is a “suspect in the administrative and financial bungling”.
“Any official involved with Pandey in the complicity for financial and administrative mismanagement should not be assisting the MHRD panel in any way,” it said.
Earlier, on Thursday, Chief Minister N Biren Singh said at a press meet that Pandey had received an extortion letter, demanding Rs 5 crore by an “underground group”.
The CM also said that the vice chancellor of the central university has told the Union government that the extortion letter and the ongoing agitation were “related”.
The V-C’s claim was strongly rebutted by the protesters, who said it was as an attempt to brand the students and teachers as “anti-national extortionists”.