Manipur University was shut down for the past few weeks due to the ongoing protests of students demanding the removal of Adya Prasad as the Vice Chancellor. The protest that started on May 30, 2018 is perhaps the largest of student agitations that Manipur has seen in recent years.
Here is all that you need to know about the protest:
Adya Prasad Pandey takes charge as the Vice Chancellor of Manipur University on October 26, 2016. After being consistently absent from campus, representations are submitted for better administration. None of these representations receive a proper response from the side of VC. Students decide to call for a campus strike demanding the removal of VC on May 30th, 2018. Soon, the faculty joins the protesting students.
Manipur University Students Union comes up with a 15 pointer list, that explains their stance on VC. Prominent among these are administrative negligence, repeated absence from the campus, and carelessness in his duty. “It is almost one and half years since Adya Prasad took the seat as vice chancellor of the university. But on an average, he is present for almost 10 days a month in the university. According to Manipur University act of 2006, the number of days permissible for leave is only 15 days.” Says Dayaman.
Adding to this is the fact that though the VC claims that he is leaving for administrative purposes, most of the time, he is on personal trips. This according to students lead to a delay in examinations, announcement of results and release of certificates. VC is also accused of corruption as he transferred 5 crores to a Lucknow based company for the installation of smart classrooms. Another allegation put forth is the Y-category security that the VC has which is intimidating for students coming from conflict zones.
The agitation starts on May 30, 2018, in Manipur University and colleges affiliated to it. The strike called forth by the Manipur University Students Union later receives support from the teachers association and the staff association. The Union demands the installation of an inquiry committee to look into the details of financial transactions by the VC and the removal of Adya Prasad from his position. All forms of democratic means are used for the protest and the students begin a relay hunger strike.
Students also submits representations to HRD Ministry, UGC, Legislative Assembly and the President. Extending solidarity to the protesting students, the department heads and deans of the university resigns from their positions until a solid action is taken. MUTA spokesperson Professor N N Singh, who resigned as HOD, Physics Department, told the media, “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 the participation of thousands of students from all the affiliated colleges.”
Adya Prasad claims that all the accusations are false. He says, “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. Fighting does not solve any problem. Everyone should come to the table.” He also releases a statement in which he requested the protesting students, teachers, and staff to follow the code of the conduct.
Fire in the Campus
A fire begins n near the indoor stadium of the campus on July 7th that results in the burning down of many important documents. Students describe the episode as an attempt to sabotage the protest. The situation turns violent with the entry of police. 7 of the protesters are injured in a lathi charge unleashed by the police. Two of these policemen were later suspended.
Section 144 is announced in and around the campus. As the protest intensifies, all telecom services except for voice calls is regulated and the internet is shut down for a period of 5 days in order to prevent the spread of rumors and fake news.
Response from Government
Since the monsoon session of the Legislative Assembly has begun, the students expects the issue to be taken up by the state government. However, the issue was not addressed in the first session. “This is an issue of the state. It has received national importance. 86 affiliated colleges are affected by the agitations. We are going to kharao the second sitting on Monday, the 23rd. We will march to the legislative assembly,” says Dayaman. As said, the students marches to the assembly.
The students also expresses displeasure with the inquiry committee that is set up. “Yes, an inquiry committee was set up to find out if our allegations are right. But he is VC and he is quite influential. It’s a 2-member committee. One member from MHRD and one from UGC. They are both close associates of the Vice-Chancellor. They call it a fact-finding committee, but they are actually fact hiding committee. This isn’t acceptable,” adds Dayaman.
The chief minister of Manipur, Mr. N. Biren Singh says that the VC would be removed from his position if the fact-finding committee of HRD Ministry finds him to be guilty. Prakah Javedkar, education minister offeres to solve the issue at the earliest. He also appeals to the students to call off the protest. Court takes up the case while the. students, on the other hand, decides to not call off the strike until the VC is removed.