Hours after the police arrested 89 students and six professors from the Manipur University campus in Imphal during midnight raids on Thursday night, K Yugindro Singh (who was earlier Pro V-C) took over as the acting vice-chancellor. The development came after V-C AP Pandey was suspended over allegations of financial irregularities on Tuesday, till the completion of the enquiry against him is over.
As Singh took charge, none of the faculty members — including V-C in-charge Viswanath — were present.
On Friday morning, the movement of students across the campus was restricted with heavy police and security deployment. Students were not allowed to go anywhere outside their hostels without the permission of the police. They also did not have access to the hostel mess.
Meanwhile, local reporters also said that 55 students from Hostel Number 5 in Manipur University campus have reportedly been missing since Thursday night.
Mobile internet was also suspended in the state capital on Friday due to the violence and arrests which took place on the campus of the university on Thursday midnight. Internet jammers were activated around the campus after a women's group group Meira Paibis arrived to stage a sit-in protest in front of the varsity gate on Friday morning.
The students of Manipur University have been protesting against the Vice-Chancellor and demanding his removal due to allegations of administrative and financial irregularities in the university. The 85-day agitation by Manipur University Students Union (MUSU), Manipur University Teachers Association (MUTA) and Manipur University Staffs Association (MUSA) had paralysed the functioning of the university.
Arrested students, faculty to be produced before court today
While there were no new instances of violence reported on Friday morning, Jogeshchandra Haobam, Imphal West SP, has confirmed that 89 students and 6 professors have been detained at different police stations namely the Imphal police station, the Singjamei police station and the Lamphel police station. They will be produced before a judicial magistrate in Imphal West on Friday.
The professors who are in police custody are: Sh Dorendrajit Singh, Ch Yashowanta, L Sanjukumar Sigh, L Biswanath Sharma, Y Raghumani Singh, N Sanatomba.
What happened on Thursday
Vice Chancellor in-charge, K Yugindro Singh and Registrar in-charge Shyam Kesho arrived at the university late morning on Thursday, along with V-C AP Pandey. Local reporters said that the V-C, who was "told" to go on leave starting 1 September, abruptly returned and had appointed a pro V-C (K Yogindra Singh) without due process. Thursday night's raids were after the V-C and the Pro V-C forcefully entered the college on Thursday morning.
Claiming that he was harassed and grilled by MUTA and MUSU leaders, Singh said, "Yesterday, for the first time in my long service in the university, I had a terrible time at the hands of some MUTA leaders and some student leaders. They confined me, harassed me and forced me to sign a printed paper. I signed it just to escape the spot. I was detained for about two hours. I had a very difficult time. They locked the rooms."
They were reportedly forced to sign an apology letter by the MU Students Union, the MU Teachers Union and the MU Staff Association. The apology letter said that they regretted acting against the interests of the university. Later, based on the FIR they filed at the Singjamei police station, the raids were conducted on across the campus on Thursday night.
On Thursday night, students who came out of their hostel were fired upon with rubber bullets and tear gas, mock bombs and charged with batons. Many sustained injuries in the police action.
A student, requesting anonymity, who was present when the raids took place, said that the police came to the hostel at around 1 am.
"When I stepped out, I saw many of my hostel mates moving towards the ground floor. When I looked down, I saw police officials, fully armed, arguing with students. [...] There were at least 40 officials inside my hostel. Our hostel complex has five hostels with a lawn in the middle. I could see that the police had entered all the hostels and close to 400 of them had occupied the lawns. [...] While talks were ongoing to arrive at a solution, out of nowhere, a tear gas shell was fired in the direction of my hostel. This caused panic and some of the students ran out. I ran towards the lawn when a shell hit my right arm. I tripped and fell down."
In a video message, MUSU general secretary Laishram Kendy claimed that more than 100 students and faculty members were taken into police custody on Thursday midnight. When students asked for a reason, security officials offered none, and said they could do whatever they want, claimed Kendy.
Local reporters also said that the raids at Manipur University were planned in advance. The police team with arms and ammunition conducted the raid after they confirmed that all newspapers had completed publication. The police did not take permission from the proctor, which is mandatory, before conducting the raid.
Police intervened due to breakdown of law and order, says Manipur government
Speaking to Firstpost, Manipur education minister Thokchom Radheshyam said the government wanted classes to run smoothly but the police had to intervene due to breakdown of law and order, which resulted in some violence.
"We want to have a peaceful atmosphere in the university. We want the classes to run smoothly. The police had to intervene because there was a breakdown of law and order situation due to some miscreants. There was some violence. We are in touch with the Central government. The V-C will be able to give a better picture. I cannot comment when total normalcy will be restored but as of now, the situation is peaceful in the campus," he said.
Congress condemns violence; AP Pandey close to RSS, BJP, says MSAD
In a press conference that was conducted by the Congress, ex-chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh said the incident that took place on Thursday night at the Manipur University is undemocratic. He said that the Congress party will not stand as a mute spectator. In order to bring about a state of normalcy, the government should release the students and the teachers they picked up on Thursday night, he said. He also added that a proper channel of dialogue between the government, the university authorities and the student and teacher's body should be initiated.
Condemning the violence unleashed on the Manipur University campus on Thursday night, Manipur Students' Association Delhi said V-C AP Pandey had close connections with the RSS and BJP.
"This has been done by the BJP and RSS. The V-C is very close to RSS and senior BJP leaders and he is behaving like a dictator. It is very unfortunate that the central government did not take any step in favor of the students whose examinations are underway. The orders of firing rubber bullets on students and detaining them is very deplorable. We demand strict actions against the V-C and all responsible persons," MSAD general secretary Javed Mehedi.
BHU executive council mulls suspending AP Pandey from university
According to highly placed sources in the Banaras Hindu University (BHU), the executive council is contemplating suspending AP Pandey from the university. The decision is being taken in view of controversies surrounding Pandey. The next meeting of the executive council is scheduled to be held in the last week of September.
Pandey is a professor in the economics department of the BHU and was sent to Manipur University on deputation.
Pandey was appointed the university’s V-C in October 2016, two years after the BJP-led NDA government swept to power in a landslide verdict in the country. Less than a year later, the BJP wrested power from the Congress in the border state with Nongthombam Biren Singh being sworn in as Manipur’s first ever BJP chief minister.
However, his experience in Imphal not been a particularly happy one. In February, he received a Rs 5 crore demand notice from one of the insurgent outfits. “From where do I get that kind of money?” he asked.
As per a Firstpost article, when asked about the allegations against him, Pandey said: “I had streamlined the financial and administrative processes and started the process of tendering for various works. This ruffled many feathers."
Pandey's suspension order, signed by the deputy secretary of the Higher Education department of HRD Ministry, said, "The Manipur government had informed that the agitation against Pandey has led to serious law and order problem and administrative crises in the state."
Meanwhile, a two-member independent committee, which was instituted by the HRD ministry to probe into the alleged administrative and financial irregularities of Pandey started working on 6 September. The inquiry committee which had asked all stakeholders to submit relevant details till 16 September has extended the deadline till 24 September. Justice (retired) T Nandakumar is the head of the committee while Professor MK Choudhury is the member.
According to local reporters, when a peon went to deliver the summon letter, no one was present at the V-C's residence to accept the letter. He left the letter at the doorstep.
The 85-day agitation ended on 22 August and the university started functioning from 23 August with Pandey proceeding on leave.
Controversies and agitations are not new at Manipur University. Before Pandey’s appointment, there was a raging controversy over a decision to reduce the reservation of seats for the state’s tribal students from 31 percent to 7.5 percent. The appointment of Pandey was intended to have a soothing effect. That move has seemingly misfired badly.
With inputs from PTI, 101Reporters, Simantik Dowerah, and Sunzu Bachaspatimayum
Updated Date: Sep 21, 2018 21:41:36 IST