The Manipur High Court on Monday rejected Manipur University Vice Chancellor Adya Prasad Pandey’s petition challenging the Ministry of Human Resource Development’s decision to form a two-member committee to investigate allegations of irregularities against him, the Imphal Free Press reported.

Pandey had wanted the court to stay the memorandum of agreement 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.

Pandey had filed a similar leave petition before the Supreme Court, which Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan disposed of on September 25 after referring it to the High Court.

There have been intense protests at the university in the last few months. The university was shut between May 31 and August 23, as the Manipur University Students’ Union, backed by the Manipur University Teachers’ Association, agitated for the removal of Pandey, whom they accused of “administrative ineptitude” and “saffronisation”.

In the wake of the protests, Pandey was sent on leave for a month on August 2. The memorandum of agreement was signed on August 16. But, early in September, Pandey announced that he would “resume” his duties, following which he even suspended the university students’ and teachers’ unions for “subversive activities”. On September 17, however, the Union ministry again suspended Pandey till the completion of the inquiry against him. This came after the state government told the Centre that the agitation against Pandey has led to serious law and order problems and an administrative crisis in the university.

Days before his suspension, Pandey appointed Y Yugindro Singh as the university’s pro vice chancellor on September 10, and reinstated M Shyamkesho Singh as the registrar-in-charge. The students’ union and the teachers’ association had objected to Y Yugindro Singh and M Shyamkesho Singh’s appointments, claiming that they amounted to violation of the memorandum of agreement that they signed with the government to end their agitation.

Subsequently, W Vishwanath Singh – who took charge of the university in August when Pandey was asked to go on leave – suspended both of them. However, a human resource development ministry order dated September 19, signed by an under secretary, upholds the appointments made by Pandey.

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.

Professors suspended

Meanwhile, four more professors – Amar Yumnam from the department of economics, M Ranjit Singh from the department of mathematics, Ng Nimai Singh of the department of physics and N Debananda Singh from the department of bio-chemistry – were suspended by registrar-in-charge Shyamkesho Singh in orders dated September 29 on grounds of misconduct.

Women students’ hunger strike

The university’s women students, who had launched a fast-unto-death strike on September 24, seeking the earliest unconditional release of the arrested people, called it off on Monday. Pro Vice Chancellor Yugindro Singh promised them that the teachers and students will be released soon.

Police will be withdrawn, says CM

Chief Minister N Biren Singh assured representatives of Manipur University Teachers’ Association that police forces deployed on campus will be removed soon, according to The Times of India.

“I assure you that there will be no further police raids on the students so that the coming next rounds of talks would be held smoothly,” Biren said. He also asked Director General of Police LM Khaute to withdraw the forces soon.

But when the representatives asked for the release of the arrested teachers and students, he said: “The government does not have the authority to release the arrested teachers and students without any condition.” A court in Imphal remanded them to judicial custody for 15 days on Monday.