High Court Suspends Manipur University Pro-VC After Weeks of Unrest

Students of the crisis-hit Manipur University on Wednesday also clashed with security forces inside the campus during which police used tear gas shells, police sources said.

New Delhi: The Manipur high court on Thursday suspended pro vice-chancellor of Manipur University Prof. K. Yugindro and appointed the former chief secretary of Manipur, Jarnail Singh, as an administrator to discharge the function of the vice-chancellor of the varsity.

Thursday’s development came after the high court, in its earlier hearing on October 5, urged all the respondents to suggest ways to resolve the crisis in the university in the interest of the students.

An order passed by the division bench of the high court said, “We have given our anxious thought and consideration over the matter and volatile and often violent situation continuing in Manipur University and considering the best interest of the students and very disturbing situation prevailing, we have reluctantly opted to intervene in the matter by issuing the following directions”.

The court made it clear that it was primarily concerned with bringing normalcy to the university and not the issue of who was responsible for bringing the university to the present “disturbed state” of condition.

The court empowered Jarnail Singh to choose the acting registrar and appoint others to assist him while discharging his duties which include passing or revoking of orders to bring normalcy in the university and defuse the volatile situation.

No classes have been held in the university since May 30.

Students of the crisis-hit Manipur University on Wednesday also clashed with security forces inside the campus during which police used tear gas shells, police sources said.

The students were demonstrating in the campus demanding the “unconditional release” of all the 15 teachers and students arrested in September following an FIR lodged on a complaint by acting vice-chancellor Yugindro.

The clash broke out when the protesting students demanded to meet Yugindro and were prevented by policemen.

Both sides had a heated exchange following which the police personnel lobbed tear gas shells to disperse the agitators, sources said, adding several students were detained.

The Indian Express reported that around 17 students of the varsity were detained by police after conducting raids inside the campus, including the boys’ hostel.

The Manipur University Teachers Association (MUTA) and the Manipur University Staff Association (MUSA) have denounced the police action on students. Earlier, MUTA members took mass casual leave Wednesday, university sources said. The teachers were protesting the delay in releasing the arrested 15 teachers and students as well as the withdrawal of the FIR.

The university has been on the boil since May with academic activities taken a hit.

Also Read: What We Are Seeing in Manipur University Is Nothing Short of a Blitzkrieg

In May this year, students and teachers at the university had held large-scale protests demanding Manipur University’s vice-chancellor A.P. Pandey’s resignation, arguing that the allegations of negligence, multiple counts of malpractices and financial irregularities against him made him an unfit vice-chancellor. According to a memorandum signed by the protestors with the state government on August 16, Pandey was supposed to be on leave “during the period of enquiry and until follow-up action taken on the enquiry report by the competent authority”.

In early September, Pandey reportedly ‘resumed’ his duties and ‘banned’ the teachers’ and students’ associations. After the university reopened, the students and the faculty members continued to allege that attempts were being made to tamper with the evidence in order to protect Pandey. Also, Pandey, besides returning to resume his duties on September 1, also filed a petition in the Manipur high court against the August 18 agreement. 

On September 17, Pandey was suspended by the MHRD, and handed over the charge to the pro-VC until further orders through a notification. Another notification on September 18, signed by Pandey, said he had handed over the charge to Yugindro.

As The Wire previously reported, on the midnight of September 20, police and paramilitary forces entered the campus in convoys and raided the five boys hostels of the university, arresting 89 students and six teachers, all on the basis of a single FIR lodged by a single person –Yugindro. Of them, police had released all but 15, whose names were in the FIR for “wrongful confinement, illegal detention and attempt to murder” when Yugindro assumed charge as acting VC on September 20. In October, Manipur University has suspended four professors as disciplinary proceedings were “contemplated/pending” against them for alleged misconduct. 

President Ram Nath Kovind, in his capacity as the visitor of the university, recently placed Pandey under suspension as an enquiry was underway into the allegations of irregularities against him.

(With inputs from PTI)

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