Manipur Deputy Chief Minister Y Joykumar on Sunday appealed to protesting students and teachers at Manipur University to restore normalcy and cooperate with the Ministry of Human Resource Development and the state government, PTI reported.

The university has remained closed since May 31, when the Manipur University Students Union began an agitation with a single-point demand of removing Vice-Chancellor Adya Prasad Pandey over claims of administrative ineptitude. The protests against Pandey, who went on a month-long leave earlier this month, have been backed by not only teachers and non-teaching staff, but also several influential civil society groups.

“We are very concerned about the future of the students as the impasse has entered its third month,” Joykumar said on Sunday. “The academic activities must have suffered a huge setback because of the stir.”

Protestors seeking Pandey’s removal have alleged that a member of an inquiry panel set up by the Ministry of Human Resource Development is associated with the vice-chancellor, and raised concerns that the committee may not be impartial. Joykumar, however, said the committee’s composition “is not within the ambit of the state government”.

“The state government is taking all possible steps to end the crisis and restore normalcy at the university,” the deputy chief minister said. “The students should not doubt its intentions. All inquiry will be carried out based on facts and figures.”

State Education Minister Th Radheshyam, who also addressed the media, issued an appeal to three students’ bodies – the All Tribal Students Union, the All Naga Students Association and the Kuki Students Organisation – that have threatened to intensify protests if the crisis is not resolved by August 6.

The demonstrations have opened up old fault lines between the Meitei-dominated Imphal Valley and the largely tribal hill areas. A few tribal student groups have accused the Manipur University Students Union – an outfit perceived to primarily represent Meitei interests – of protesting against the vice chancellor after he attempted to restore a higher percentage of reservation for tribal students in the university.