Students of Manipur University Friday protested against a showcause notice served to an Assistant Professor of the Manipuri department for allegedly criticising the state government.
Aggrieved by the notice, the students resorted to vandalism inside the university. A team of Manipur police rushed to the spot to control the situation. Later, the students barged into the Registrar’s office and demanded revocation of the showcause notice. The agitating students also demanded respect for academic freedom.
However, no understanding was reached and the police dispersed the students from the administrative block.
On Wednesday, the Registrar of the university had issued a showcause notice seeking an explanation from assistant professor Naorem Sanatomba within seven days, as to why disciplinary action should not be taken against him. As per the notice, the assistant professor criticised the government in regards to tourism, liquor legalisation and various other sensitive issues while delivering his speech during a debate competition organised by the Manipur University Students’ Union (MUSU).
“Such speech made by him (Naorem Sanatomba) in the public platform has tarnished the image of the University…prima facie appears to be highly derogatory and defamatory,” said the notice.
It further alleged that the speech violated the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964. The resolution to issue a showcause notice was resolved during the Deans’ Committee meeting, the notice added.
Sanatomba’s speech had gone viral on social media platforms wherein he strongly opposed the state cabinet’s decision to legalise liquor. The Manipur cabinet last Tuesday lifted the prohibition on the sale, consumption and brewing of alcohol in the state. The state claimed that the decision was taken after taking into consideration the health issues caused by consuming unregulated liquor and to boost the state’s revenue. The decision drew flak from different sections, particularly the civil bodies.
In the backdrop of the showcause notice, Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh, while speaking at a state function, cautioned that ‘Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Press’ also have a limit. He said, “We are all bound under the Constitution and cannot act beyond that.”