Manipur University VC Resumes Duties, 'Bans' Students', Teachers' Associations

The teachers', students' and staff associations have rejected A.P. Pandey's return and his decision, calling it a 'virtual order'.

New Delhi: Manipur University vice-chancellor A.P. Pandey has reportedly ‘resumed’ his duties and ‘banned’ the teachers’ and students’ associations. Pandey was asked to go on leave on August 2 pending an inquiry into allegations of negligence and financial irregularities against him.

Students and teachers at the university had held large-scale protests starting May 30 demanding Pandey’s resignation, arguing that the allegations made him an unfit vice-chancellor. On August 16, the protestors signed a memorandum with the state government and the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development, which said that Pandey would be on leave until the inquiry was completed and appropriate action taken, Indian Express reported. According to the agreement, Pandey was to be on leave “during the period of enquiry and until follow-up action taken on the enquiry report by the competent authority”.

The university was on an 85-day shutdown during the protests, and the teachers’ and staff associations supported the students’ union. The university reopened on August 23.

A.P. Pandey. Credit: Manipur University website

A.P. Pandey. Credit: Manipur University website

However, on August 31, Pandey issued a notification saying that he had resumed his duties at the university. Pandey has denied the charges against him and said that teachers and students are unhappy because he has tightened the administration. “I returned to Imphal and took charge after my leave was over on August 31. I have informed the MHRD, the governor and the chief secretary of Manipur besides the registrar of the university about my rejoining,” The Hindu quoted him as saying.

Then, on September 1, he issued another notification saying the Manipur University Act, 2005 “does not provide an provision for existence of employees’ bodies” like the teachers’ and students’ associations. The office order said that both organisations were “directly involved in subversive activities leading to create turmoil in the university”.

Pandey told the Indian Express, “I have banned the MUTA and MUSA because they were instigating students to protest and ruin the atmosphere of the university. They were pushing students towards destruction and destroying the future of so many students.”

On Sunday, the associations said that they would resume their protests if Pandey is allowed to resume office. In an emergency meeting, Indian Express reported, the teachers’ association said that he will “allowed to enter” campus until the probe is complete and action has been taken. The teachers also said that Pandey’s “virtual order” (banning the associations) should be “seen as the prime example of how undemocratic and authoritarian he is”.

The teachers’ association spokesperson, professor N.N. Singh told Indian Express, “If by the evening of September 4, there is no response to our demand, we will resume our strike.”