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Rector of Jawaharlal Nehru University steps down

Ajay Kumar Dubey resigns against backdrop of complaints of irregularities related to NGOs and protests by RSS-backed ABVP against him for alleged administrative lapses
Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Jawaharlal Nehru University.
File photo

Basant Kumar Mohanty   |   New Delhi   |   Published 31.08.22, 04:03 AM

The rector of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) has stepped down against the backdrop of complaints of irregularities related to NGOs and protests by the RSS-backed Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) against him for alleged administrative lapses.

Ajay Kumar Dubey had resigned from the post and it had been accepted by the competent authority with immediate effect, an order issued on Monday by the JNU registrar said. No reason was cited.

Dubey was appointed rector, the equivalent of pro-vice-chancellor in certain other universities, on February 7 this year, the same day Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit took charge as vice-chancellor.

The Avvaiyaar Samvaad Forum, a group of JNU faculty members, alleged that Dubey had misused the name of the university to run two NGOs.

According to the Niti Aayog’s database NGO Darpan, Dubey is the president of the Organisation for Diaspora Initiatives (ODI) and the secretary of the African Studies Association of India (ASAI).

In case of the ODI, the contact address mentioned on the Darpan website is “5 Dakshinapuram, JNU”, which is the official residence allotted to Dubey. The contact address for the ASAI is mentioned as “351, Africa Division, SIS” — the room allotted to the Mandela Chair at the School of International Studies (SIS).

Dubey is a faculty member at the Centre for African Studies at the SIS. He will continue as faculty member.

While the ASAI has been functioning since October 2003, the ODI has been in operation since June 2004.

The House Allotment Rules of JNU state that “the employees to whom a residence has been allotted shall not use the premises for any other purpose other than residence”.

Between 2014 and 2019, the ODI received funds totalling Rs 61 lakh, according to the NGO Darpan website. The ASAI received over Rs 25 lakh during this period for holding seminars and conferences, the website says.

Both NGOs are registered under the Societies Registration Act and JNU is not part of the governing structure of any of the two nonprofits.

“Without using JNU’s name, the NGOs would not have got so much funds for holding seminars and conferences,” said a faculty member, requesting anonymity.

The Avvaiyaar Samvaad Forum alleged that no-objection certificates had not been obtained from JNU for using addresses associated with the university for the NGOs.

The Telegraph had sent an email to Dubey on August 15 asking him about the allegations related to the NGOs. He had forwarded a link to a PTI article published in The Print news portal that had quoted Dubey as saying that both the NGOs were using the JNU address for communication purposes and that they were not registered under any address associated with the university.

A subsequent email sent on August 16 asking where outside the JNU campus the NGOs were registered and seeking documentary evidence remained unanswered.

On Tuesday, the newspaper again wrote to Dubey, to which he responded that he had already “passed on” his comments published in The Print.

This newspaper sent an email to VC Pandit asking whether JNU was aware of the NGOs, but is yet to receive a response.

ABVP members are on a “satyagraha” since August 12 on the campus to protest delay in the release of fellowships and lack of repair of hostel buildings. Last week, they had a scuffle with security guards when they tried to enter the admission block to enquire about the delay in the release of funds. They alleged they were attacked by the guards at the instance of Dubey.

Dubey told this newspaper on Tuesday that the ABVP allegations were baseless and defamatory.

Another teacher said: “The ABVP protest is orchestrated by a group of faculty members who feel aggrieved by the actions of the administration. They consider Dubey to be instrumental in most actions (that have created controversies). The VC should not have given so much power to Dubey. Distribution of power helps maintain balance.”

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