The students’ union of the Manipur University has demanded that police forces deployed on campus be removed in the interests of newly-admitted students, the Imphal Free Press reported on Sunday. The presence of armed security personnel inside the institute may instil fear and apprehension in the latest batch of students, said the students’ union in a statement.
On September 20, the police fired tear gas shells and carried out mock bomb attacks during midnight raids at the university. Around 90 students and five faculty members were arrested as well. Later, a complaint was filed with a two-member inquiry committee after Pro Vice Chancellor Y Yugindro Singh and security forces allegedly broke the lock of the vice chancellor’s office.
Condemning the police action, Manipur University Students’ Union President M Dayaman said the midnight raids were a clear sign of the state government’s and the Ministry of Human Resource Development’s indifferent attitude to the career and future of students. The arrests of students and teachers have been criticised by all thinking persons, said the release.
Both the state and central government had tried to shield Vice Chancellor AP Pandey when the situation in the university was slowly being restored to a state of normalcy, said the statement. It added that the police atrocities against students are still continuing and accused Yugindro Singh and another professor, M Shyamkesho Singh, of running the university like despots.
The university’s women students have launched a fast-unto-death seeking the earliest unconditional release of the arrested people, the statement added. The health condition of many of these students has worsened, the statement said, adding that they have been admitted to hospitals.
The university was closed between May 31 and August 23 while the students’ union agitated with a single-point demand for Pandey’s removal for alleged administrative ineptitude. The protestors called off their 85-day-long agitation after the authorities promised that an independent inquiry committee would look into their allegations. The protestors have accused Pandey of incompetence and conducting several “non-academic activities” out of his office after taking charge in October 2016. He has also failed to fill key positions, they said.
On August 16, a memorandum of agreement was signed between the students’ union, the teachers’ association, the staff association, and representatives of the Ministry of Human Resource Development and the state government. According to the agreement, Pandey was supposed to be on leave till the inquiry against him is completed.
But Pandey, who was sent on a month-long leave on August 2 after a section of students and teachers began protesting against him in May, resumed duty earlier this month and promptly banned two protesting employees’ outfits at the institution.
On September 4, Pandey moved the Manipur High Court challenging the Ministry of Human Resource Development’s decision to form a two-member committee to investigate allegations of irregularities against him. The vice chancellor has appealed that the inquiry panel be disbanded.