Manipur University students’ body calls for statewide strike

In a fresh order on Tuesday, the MHRD reconstituted the enquiry committee and included T Nandakumar Singh, a former acting Chief Justice of the Meghalaya High Court, as the chairperson of the panel.

The Manipur University Students’ Union (MUSU) has called for a 48-hour strike across the state from Tuesday midnight, even as the protests seeking the removal of the university vice-chancellor, Adya Prasad Pandey, entered its fiftieth day.

Pandey, who is facing allegations ranging from administrative negligence to misuse of varsity funds, has claimed that the accusations were motivated and has refused to step down from his post.

“Since May 30, we have been demanding the vice-chancellor’s removal through democratic means, but it has yielded nothing concrete, so we have been compelled to call this strike. Our first and foremost demand is the removal of the vice-chancellor and an enquiry thereafter,” MUSU president M Dayaman told The Indian Express.

Students have expressed apprehensions with the two-member fact-finding and enquiry committee set up by the Ministry of Human Resource Department recently, claiming that the two experts — JK Tripathi of the University Grants Commission, and Surat Singh of the MHRD — on the panel were “close acquaintances” of Pandey.

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In a fresh order on Tuesday, the MHRD reconstituted the enquiry committee and included T Nandakumar Singh, a former acting Chief Justice of the Meghalaya High Court, as the chairperson of the panel. The order also said that the three-membered fact-finding committee would now submit its report within a month.

The development came after the Chief Minister N Biren Singh requested the MHRD to consider reconstituting the committee.

Earlier, Manipur University Teachers’ Association (MUTA) spokesperson Professor N N Singh, who resigned as the head of MUSU’s physics department after the association extended its support to the agitation, had demanded a judicial enquiry into the charges against Pandey.

“After removing him (Pandey), a high-level judicial enquiry should be ordered and a three-member committee headed by a retired judge of a High Court or the Supreme Court should be constituted. The other two members should be retired V-Cs of prominent universities,” he said.

Besides the MUTA, the Manipur University Staff Association (MUSA) and some other organisations outside the University have joined the agitation seeking Pandey’s removal.

Pandey, however, denied that Tripathi and Singh were his acquaintances. “The persons (on the committee) are not close to me or anything. Claiming that he had completed all works in a systematic manner, he said: “Let anyone investigate me, I will come out clean because I have followed the proper process in everything.”

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