Throwing their weight behind the students’ agitation at Manipur University in demand of the Vice-Chancellor’s resignation, all the deans and 28 heads of departments at the university have resigned.
The agitation led by Manipur University Students’ Union (MUSU) has been on since May 30. Students have been demanding V-C Professor Adya Prasad Pandey’s resignation over multiple allegations of administrative negligence and carelessness in running the university.
Pandey has claimed that the allegations are false and declined to resign.
The impasse at the university, which has been shut for over a month now, has gathered steam with the resignations of deans and HODs. The MUSU has locked down all departments and buildings.
Meanwhile, activities like declaration of undergraduate results, admissions for postgraduate courses and verification of certificates for jobs students apply for are stalled.
MUSU president M Dayaman told The Indian Express, “Our demand is the irresponsible V-C’s removal. Due to him, the administration of this university has been paralysed.”
“Important posts like Registrar or Controller of Examination have been kept as “in-charges” who cannot take any decision on their own and need the V-C’s approval. We have been pressuring him to appoint a regular Registrar for a long time, but he has intentionally created a situation like this,” he said.
Pandey, appointed V-C in October 2016, enjoys a Y-category security cover. The protesters have argued that this hinders the V-C’s interaction with teachers, staff and students.
The Manipur University Teachers’ Association (MUTA), which is supporting the agitation, has made several allegations against the V-C. These include frequent leaves without notifying exact date of his return, delay in interviews for promotion of faculty members and failure to arrange interviews for fresh appointments, and certain purchases made by the university.
MUTA spokesperson Professor N N Singh, who has resigned as HOD, Physics Department, told The Indian Express, “There are several irregularities in administrative and financial matters. Within a few days, if the Centre fails to take a decision, there will be a huge uproar in the university, and the gathering will see participation of thousands of students from all the affiliated colleges,” added Singh.
Dismissing the allegations, Pandey told The Indian Express that he won’t resign.
“They should come and express their problems. I will try to solve the issues. It takes nothing to level allegations against someone, anyone can do that. All allegations against me are false,” said Pandey, a former HOD of Economics at Banaras Hindu University. He alleged that the protesters “pressured” the deans and HODs to resign. “Fighting does not solve any problem. Everyone should come to the table.”
In a statement issued on Sunday, the V-C requested students, teachers and non-teaching staff to abide by the code of the conduct and to refrain from unlawful acts. He added that he was in constant touch with Manipur CM N Biren Singh and Governor Najma Heptulla to resolve the crisis.
“MUSU should think of the students first even though there are differences between them and the administration,” he said in the statement.
A team constituted by the opposition Congress has presented a fact-finding report on the situation to the President on July 3. “The team went to the university and met all stakeholders. We have recommended that there must be a dialogue with all stakeholders to resolve the issue and failing that, the removal of the V-C is only way out,” said former deputy CM and chairman of the committee Gaikhangam Gangmei.
Higher education secretary at the HRD Ministry, R Subrahmanyam, told The Indian Express that a joint secretary had been rushed to the university.
Giving details, Girish Hosur, joint secretary of the ministry, said, “Yes, joint secretary, MHRD, visited the central university to assess the situation and held talks with the students’ union and others to resolve the issue. Held dicussions with Hon’ble CM of Manipur.”