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IMPHAL | Sept 26 : 286 academics and members of civil society, including world renowned American social critic, Noam Chomsky; Indian literary theorist and feminist critic, Gayatri C Spivak of Columbia University along with assistant professor, University of Oklahoma, Amit R Baishya and assistant professor, Miranda House, Delhi University, Abha Dev Habib amomgst others have unequivocally condemn the arbitrary arrest and incarceration of six teachers and nine students of Manipur University.
While stating that six teachers and seven students have been sent to judicial custody for fifteen days and the remaining two students for five days, a statement jointly signed by the 286 academics and members of civil society informed that the arrests have been made under sections of the Indian Penal Code that invoke ‘an attempt to murder’, ‘wrongful confinement’, ‘extortion’, ‘kidnapping’ and ‘criminal conspiracy’ on the basis of a complaint made by Manipur University faculty, K. Yugindro Singh (and the suspended registrar M. Shyamkesho) on charges of attempt to murder and kidnapping.
The six arrested professors have also been suspended with immediate effect and following the arrests, the Manipur University campus has been turned into a cantonment, the boys hostel has had tear gas shells and mock bombs rained down upon it all of the night of September 20, Internet services shut down, and all normal academic life has come to a complete halt, it said.
The statement said that even in the face of great police brutality, MU had witnessed a peaceful 85-day long united agitation by its teachers, students, and staff asking for the removal of the vice-chancellor, A P Pandey, and the constitution of an Independent Enquiry Committee to look into the allegations of his administrative and financial lapses.
While stating the agitation was successful, with a probe being announced on August 16 and the VC being placed on suspension pending inquiry on September 18, it also said that the details of the egregious misdemeanours of the suspended VC that have formed the basis of agitation by the greater student and teacher communities and have been the cause of disruption of academic activities.
Stating that with the agitation called off, MU was in the process of conducting long-delayed semester examinations, the statement asserted that K. Yugindro Singh’s attempt to assume charge as pro-VC on the strength of a suspended VC’s 10 order is unquestionably superseded by the September 18 accord between MHRD, Manipur Government, and the Manipur University community.
It further contended that it was in this context that the members of the MU community had engaged with K. Yugindro (and M. Shyamkesho) to dissuade him from plunging the university into a crisis while adding that there was no attempt to kidnap or murder is clearly evidenced by the fact that the two faculty were unharmed after the meeting, and at full liberty to make the complaint personally. If anything, the conspiracy seems to be on the other side, as latest reports are that K. Yugindro Singh has assumed charge as acting VC of Manipur University on the instructions purportedly issued by MHRD on September 19 and this gives truth to the charge being made in Manipur University that the police action and arrests of the professors and students enjoys political patronage by both the state and central BJP-RSS governments, it added.
Asserting that the aim of this ‘invasion’ was to create conditions that will simultaneously derail or tamper with the probe against AP Pandey, wreak retribution on the Manipur University community and particularly MUSU for their successful agitation, and serve as a chilling warning to all universities whose constituents dare to challenge corruption, arbitrary and unethical conduct by BJP-RSS appointees as heads of their institutions, the academics and members of civil society, in their statement, said, “Our appeal is to the Visitor of Manipur University, the President of India. We demand the immediate and unconditional release of all teachers and students of Manipur University arrested on September 21 and after, and a withdrawal of all charges and suspension orders.”
The statement also demanded the removal of Yugindro Singh as VC in charge and a restoration of prof. Viswanath Singh as VC in-charge, and prof. Sougaijam Dorendrajit as registrar in-charge, and a strict adherence to all terms of the Memorandum of Agreement henceforth. Our reasons for these demands are best put in the words that the Visitor himself used in his order suspending AP Pandey “In the interest of justice for free and fair enquiry,” it added.~IFP