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College shutdown over varsity impasse

Imphal: The Joint College Students' Forum (JCSF), a conglomerate body of student unions of colleges in Manipur, launched an indefinite total shutdown of all colleges affiliated to Manipur University on Thursday.

The students recently formed the forum to press for their rights as their career is being affected by the Manipur University impasse. The university has been paralysed since May 30, the day the Manipur University Students' Union launched a strike, demanding vice-chancellor Adya Prasad Pandey's ouster. The students levelled 15 allegations, including financial irregularities.

On Thursday, 20 colleges took part in the total shutdown. The students' forum demanded that results of third, fourth and sixth semester college examinations be declared. There are 86 institutions affiliated to the central university in Manipur.

The students said they would not lift the strike until their demand is fulfilled.

A meeting of the JCSF, held on Wednesday, resolved to launch the agitation after getting no positive response from the state government to resolve the crisis. The students' forum had submitted a memorandum to chief minister N. Biren Singh on July 7.

"We had given three days to the authorities concerned. But as they failed to meet our demands, we are left with no choice but to shut down the colleges," said JCSF convenor Arambam Vikash.

The JCSF said the university stalemate over Pandey's removal has adversely affected the academic functioning of all colleges affiliated to the university. "The results of the sixth semester exam are important to apply for post-graduate courses," said Vikash.

The students' forum also said that both the state and Union governments should bear the consequences of the situation.

Biren Singh on Thursday said he would lead a team of ministers to New Delhi to press the human resource development ministry to resolve the crisis. The team will leave on Friday to meet human resource development minister Prakash Javadekar, officials of the University Grants Commission and other relevant authorities, he added.

The chief minister said the team would ask the ministry to constitute a fact-finding committee to probe allegations levelled against Pandey.

"We have been discussing on the possibility to temporarily relieve the vice-chancellor of his administrative powers during the investigation period and hand it to another senior official of the university," Biren Singh said. "If the allegations levelled by the students against the vice-chancellor are true, then he must resign. But it would be unethical to give punishment without a proper trial".

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