Protest at Manipur University called off after 85 days ‘in the interest of students’
Students say the Centre has agreed to all their terms in a memorandum that was signed on August 16.
Protesting students and teachers called off their 85-day-long agitation at the Manipur University on Thursday, PTI reported. They called off the agitation “in the interest of students” and also because the Centre had agreed to all their terms, Manipur University Students’ Union president M Dayaman Singh said.
A memorandum of agreement was signed on August 16 between the students’ union, teachers’ association, staff association, and representatives of the Human Resource Development Ministry and the state government.
The university had been closed since May 31, when the students’ union began an agitation with a single-point demand for the removal of Vice Chancellor Adya Prasad Pandey over claims of administrative ineptitude. They wanted an independent inquiry committee to look into the allegations.
The protests against Pandey, who went on a month-long leave earlier in August, were backed by not only teachers and non-teaching staff, but also several influential civil society groups. The protests paralysed the university, with agitators locking down the administrative block. The semester examinations were also postponed indefinitely.
Authorities will now decide when to resume classes, said the Manipur University Teachers’ Association and the Manipur University Students’ Union. M Dayaman Singh said the university can initiate steps to hold MA examinations and also declare pending results of the final-year students.
He said that any attempt to reinstate Pandey would not be accepted. Six deans, the public relations officer, and 29 out of the 31 head of departments have resigned since the agitation began.
Allegations against Pandey
The protestors claimed that Pandey was incompetent, and conducted several “non-academic activities” from his office. He was also unable to fill key positions such as that of the chancellor in the university since he took charge in October 2016, they claimed, adding that other posts such as the registrar were also often left vacant.
The protestors also allege that Pandey goes on leave for long periods of time without mentioning his date of return, and an “extraordinary” amount of money is used for these trips, according to the Imphal Free Press. Some protestors also accused the vice chancellor of trying to “saffronise the university” by promoting some groups that have connections with right-wing organisations.