Embattled Vice-Chancellor Adya Prasad Pandey has banned the staff and teachers’ associations of Manipur University after returning from long leave on Saturday. The associations reacted on Sunday, threatening to resume their agitation that could put the university on the boil again.
Mr. Pandey had gone on a month’s leave from August 2 after the Ministry of Human Resources Development had advised him to stay away on the recommendation of the State’s BJP-led coalition government that feared a “law and order situation” on the campus.
The Manipur University Students’ Union (MUSU) had on May 30 launched an agitation demanding his removal for alleged administrative and financial irregularities on the campus. The Manipur University Teachers’ Association (MUTA) and the Manipur University Staff’s Association (MUSA) joined the students’ protests later.
Mr. Pandey, who had joined the trouble-prone university in December 2016, dismissed all charges against him as baseless. He insisted that the unions were against him for tightening the administration and setting a few things right.
“I returned to Imphal and took charge after my leave was over on August 31. I have informed the MHRD, the Governor and the Chief Secretary of Manipur besides the Registrar of the university about my rejoining,” he said.
Hours after he rejoined, Mr. Pandey issued an order saying that the Manipur University Act of 2005 has no provision for the existence of employees’ bodies such as the MUTA and the MUSA. Both the associations, he said, were found to be directly involved in subversive activities leading to the current turmoil on the campus and indiscipline in the university.
The two associations, the order said, have been found guilty of violating rules and thus been banned “with immediate effect and also from holding any meeting or otherwise” for maintaining discipline in the university.
In a joint statement on Sunday, the MUTA, the MUSA and the MUSU said that the “virtual order” issued by Mr. Pandey “during his period of leave be condemned as null and void and so non-binding”. They also threatened to resume the agitation that was suspended temporarily if the “competent authority does not take action” against him.
The three groups had on August 23 suspended their 85-day agitation after they signed a memorandum of understanding with the MHRD and the Manipur government. A fact-finding committee was set up according to the agreement and Mr. Pandey was advised to be on leave “during the period of inquiry and until follow-up action is taken on the inquiry report by a competent authority”.
Mr. Pandey said the question of remaining on leave did not arise since the fact-finding panel “is yet to start its work”.