Students of Manipur University were facing immense problems due to their Vice-Chancellor, A.P. Pandey’s absence from the campus. They have been protesting about the same for almost two months. In a recent development, the VC has left on an official leave from August 2, 2018, for a month.
The students of Manipur University went on a strike on May 31, later joined by the teachers and non-teaching staff, demanding the VC’s resignation. The Vice-Chancellor, who started his tenure in October 2016, has been facing criticism and being deemed as “unworthy” by both the students as well as the teachers. Students of the University were already facing many academic and administrative issues and the change of VC was a beacon of hope for all the members of the university. The situation became worse when the VC started taking leaves and remained absent from the campus for long periods of time. The students tried multiple times to contact Mr Pandey and report their issues and grievances, but the files lay stranded in the office, waiting for him to return. According to students and teachers, Mr AP Pandey wasn’t being honest about why he was taking leaves, and this lack of transparency is said to have triggered the protest.
“He will say that he’s going for the welfare of the university – for UGC work, or some developmental work. But during his outside visits, he uploads all the photos on Facebook, which are not related to the university or its development. His visits include temples, to his friends,” Lisam Shanjukumar, the secretary of Manipur University Teacher’s Association, told Youth Ki Awaaz.
The students and teachers have made numerous attempts to have a dialogue with the VC, but all to no avail. The teachers initially did not want to join the protest and tried to have a peaceful conversation with the VC to give him a chance to justify his absence and give them, as well as the students, clarifications, but the VC clearly refused. So later, the protest started by the Student Union of Manipur University was joined by the teacher’s association as well, all of them demanding the VC’s removal. They collectively believe that the development of the University is not possible until the VC is removed. Despite the protests, the Vice-Chancellor hasn’t issued any clarifications. The HRD ministry, on the other hand, has advised Mr Pandey to go on yet another month-long leave.
The MUTA as well as the MUSU want the VC removed and after that, they want a committee to be set up that will investigate his actions and financial decisions. While talking to YKA, the President of Manipur University Students’ Union, Mayanglambam Dayaman gave an example of the smart class being installed in the university. The smart boards have been installed in the classes apparently by a firm based in Lucknow and according to Mayanglambam, the cost is way higher than the ones found normally. Basically, all they (students and teachers) want their questions to be answered so that the university could further on the path of growth and development.
The UGC had formed a committee to investigate the allegations against the VC, and the misuse of funds, but the students didn’t agree. According to the students, the HRD ministry has been backing the VC since the beginning of his tenure and isn’t trustworthy. Now, after no action being taken for more than two months, the ministry sent the VC on leave. This decision has been appreciated by the Chief Minister of Manipur, N Biren Singh, who has also requested the students to stop the protest.
It has taken the students and teachers very long to get a response from concerned authorities. However, what happens, in the end, will depend on the 89 affiliated colleges of Manipur University.