The Manipur Police detained 89 students along six faculty members in midnight raids at the Manipur University campus in state capital Imphal. Social media feed and local reports claimed that tear gas shells and rubber bullets were fired at students inside the boys' hostel located inside the campus.
According to the local papers, the incident took place after Pro Vice-Chancellor Y Yugindro Singh, appointed by vice-chancellor AP Pandey " who is on a leave " entered the university complex to take charge as the V-C on Thursday afternoon. According to the Imphal Times' report, V-C Pandey also accompanied Singh as they entered the campus with security personnel and arms. Firstpost, however, was unable to verify if the two incidents are related.
According to sources, many students have been injured during the raid. Five faculty members have also been taken into custody following the raids which saw the police accompanied by armed forces, using tear gas and mock bombs inside the campus.
Congress' Manipur unit criticised the raid terming it a "new facet of fascism". It also tweeted images of the midnight raid saying that "around 30 armed vehicles entered inside the campus... and that gas shells and rubber bullet shots were heard inside the campus".
MU students being tortured and arrested at midnight!!! Around 30 armed vehicles entered inside the campus now ! Tear gas shells, rubber bullets shots are heard inside the campus.. my students are panicked!! #StopTerrorisingStudents #SaveManipurUniversity pic.twitter.com/A1QxTq1CoJ
" INC Manipur (@INCManipur) September 20, 2018
" INC Manipur (@INCManipur) September 20, 2018
The students of Manipur University have been protesting against the Vice-Chancellor and his alleged misconduct in the university. The 85-day agitation by MUSU, MUTA and MUSA had paralysed functioning of the Manipur university. The MUSU, MUTA and MUSA are demanding the removal of Pandey alleging administrative and financial irregularities by him.
The agitation ended on 22 August and the university started functioning from 23 August with Pandey proceeding on leave. The enquiry committee was setup with registrar in-charge Professor Dorendrojit Singh as the nodal officer of the committee.
Local reporters have said that the V-C, who was "told" to go on leave starting 1 September, abruptly returned and appointed a pro V-C without due process. Thursday night's raids were after the V-C and the pro V-C forcefully entered the college on Thursday morning.
According to local papers, as per the MoA signed by MHRD on 16 August, in the absence of the V-C, Pro V-C Singh should take charge of the university. But since Pandey had appointed Singh as the new Pro V-C when he was asked to go on leave, the three student unions have refused to accept his appointment.
The students unions, also argue that since as per the Clause 4 of the 'Statutes of the University, MU Act 2005', "a pro vice chancellor can only be appointed by the executive council on the recommendation of the VC, that is, the vice-chancellor can't unilaterally appoint someone as PVC". Thus, VC Pandey doesn't have the legal authority to appoint a PVC since he was on official leave (without the acceptance his PVC nominee by the executive council of Manipur University).
So, according to the university community, MHRD's and Shyamkesho's notification and recognising PVC Singh is "illegal" and hence, unacceptable by them. The representatives of the university community further stated that provided that where the recommendation of the Vice-Chancellor is not accepted by the Executive Council, the matter shall be referred to the visitor who may either appoint the person recommended by the Vice-Chancellor or ask the Vice-Chancellor to recommend another person to the executive council, i.e. can appoint a professor to discharge the duties of a Pro-Vice-Chancellor in addition to his own duties as a professor, according to the report.
The report says that in the PVC appointment notification, VC Pandey had mentioned the term "in anticipation of the approval of the executive council", which means, that the executive council hasn't held a meeting on the of appointment of a PVC and neither such a nominee recommendation has been formally accepted by the executive council of the Manipur University. "Please let everyone know, if otherwise, the executive council's meeting date/time and minutes of meeting note to substantiate the proof of acceptance of Singh as PVC," the university community members demanded.
However, reports say that the issue can only be resolved after the court directives regarding the forced leave and the MoA signed between the MHRD, Government of Manipur and Manipur University community is challenged by Pandey. However, the hearing which was supposed to be held on Wednesday was defered after a similar Special Leave Petition (SLP) was filed by Pandey in the Supreme Court.
Apparently, the VC in-charge professor Vishwanath wrote a letter to the MHRD secretary urging for clarification on the legitimacy of the order by Shyamkesho in the capacity of the Registrar in-charge, when Dolendro has already been acting as the Registrar in-charge and is also presently serving as the nodal officer of the enquiry committee.
According to his letter, Shaymkesho had applied for a casual leave when the university re-opened on 23 August, the report states.
According to The Indian Express report, V-C Pandey has said that he is "ready to face any sort of inquiry, provided the probe committee is impartial". He has claimed that the chairman of the inquiry committee constituted by the HRD ministry is a relative of one of the key members of the Manipur University Teachers Association (MUTA), the report said. He is facing an inquiry following the incidents of violence on the campus.
The enquiry committee which had asked all stakeholders to submit relevant details till September 16 had extended the deadline till 24 September. According to local reporters, when the 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
Meanwhile, Imphal Times reported that students appearing in Thursday's examination were "mentally disturbed and failed to concentrate with the new development... while students who had came to take the admission form had to return home as the counter was shut down in protest against the incident". Later, a meeting was held between the Pro V-C, registrar in-charge Professor Shyamkesho and the university members, the report said.