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Twin strikes hit classes in Manipur University

- Teachers and students protest over separate demands, police deployed on campus
Manipur University teachers at the sit-in on Tuesday. Picture by UB Photos

Imphal, Feb. 4: Twin strikes by teaching and student communities completely crippled academic activities of Manipur University at Chanchipur, 8km south of Imphal.

The teachers’ strike seeking appointment of posts, has disrupted classes for the past four days.

The students’ agitation, on the other hand, demanding the revival of Manipur University Students’ Union has disturbed law and order on the campus.

Threats from students to shut the administrative block, where the office of vice-chancellor H. Nandakumar Sharma is located, prompted the Okram Ibobi Singh government to deploy armed police personnel inside and outside the block.

To prevent any unwanted incident, the police personnel deployed on the campus are closely monitoring the movement of students, teachers and visitors.

The teachers, under the banner of Manipur University Teachers’ Association, intensified their agitation today by staging a sit-in on the campus after boycotting all classes since Saturday.

Altogether 180 teachers from 28 departments are seeking appointment of posts, payment of higher academic grade scale, strengthening of departments, upgrade of Internet facilities, uniformed honorarium for re-employed teachers, visiting professors, part-time lecturers and guest lecturers.

“We served the strike notice to the vice-chancellor well in advance. The vice-chancellor appealed to us only on Friday to withdraw the decision to cease work. We rejected the appeal,” M. Ranjit Singh, the president of the teachers’ body, said.

Vice-chancellor Sharma maintained that the teachers’ demands were unreasonable as a process was under way for appointment and creation of more posts.

The university, which became a central one on October 13, 2005, is now without full-time finance officer, controller of examination and director of College Development Council.

“We had invited applications for the posts many times but found no eligible candidates. We have again issued advertisements on the posts,” Sharma said.

Reacting to allegations that the vice-chancellor was not taking interest in strengthening the university, he said 37 faculty members were promoted and 27 were directly recruited.

A committee, constituted by the executive council of the university, will negotiate with the teachers tomorrow for an amicable solution, the vice-chancellor said.

As the teachers were on dharna, a group of students tried to set a wooden almirah nearby on fire. A police team foiled the attempt by snatching away the almirah.

The then chancellor, P. N. Shrivastava, suspended the Manipur University Students’ Union, an elected body by an order on April 29, 2009, maintaining that the provision of such an elected student body was not in the statutes of the university.

Terming the demand for revival of the union justified, Sharma said the university was pressuring the Union human resource ministry to amend the statutes of the university to revive the union.

Sharma said he would highlight all the problems of the university during a two-day vice-chancellors’ meet starting on Thursday in New Delhi.