Poles apart : Pandey and Singh Lessons to learn from MU crisis

The news story that Vice Chancellor of Hidayatulla National Law University (HNLU) has resigned after students rose as one and demanded his resignation is trending in the social media such as Facebook with many natives of the State uploading the news content. News of a VC resigning is not exactly breaking news that it should catch the attention of the people, but it did here and one does not have to look beyond Manipur University to understand the significance of its news worthiness. The VC of HNLU, Sukh Pal Singh threw in the towel after a group of students launched an indefinite hunger strike demanding his removal, according to Scroll.in. Nothing extraordinary here, for this is a case of a VC stepping down in the face of students demanding his ouster. Resigned a few hours after the students demanded his resignation. Now juxtapose the case of Sukh Pal Singh with AP Pandey and one cannot help but notice some fine points emerging which cannot be brushed aside that easily. In the case of AP Pandey it has been a case of Manipur University thrown out of gear since May 30 with not only the students demanding his removal but teachers and employees of the varsity joining in too. That he could cling onto his chair for so long more than underlines his proximity to the power centre. It took the personal intervention of the President of India to send him packing, but in leaving AP Pandey made sure that he would not go out without a splash and what a splash he made. Midnight raid at MU, teachers and students arrested on some charges or the other, suspension of at least four senior Professors of the varsity etc.
The drama continues to this day, with Manipur University Students’ Union (MUSU) more than making it clear that talking with the Government at this point will make no sense. The stand of the student body can be understood in the backdrop of the fact that at this moment a number of teachers and students have been put behind bars. Making things worse is the emerging indication that there could be something more to the FIR lodged by Pro VC Professor Yugindro Singh. What is that something has already been spelt out by Prof Yugindro when he went live on the local TV channels. The State Government must realise that it will need more than keeping its doors open for a negotiation with the teachers, students and staff of MU to resolve the crisis. The first step towards this would be to see that the FIR lodged with the police is withdrawn so that the phrase ‘open to dialogue’ is made more meaningful. Second, after the FIR is withdrawn release all the detained teachers and students. Thirdly mediate and see how the suspension order of the four senior Professors of MU can be rolled back. If the suspension had anything to do with improving the university then it is fine, but more than likely that the suspension was a matter of one upmanship. As stated many times in this column earlier, this is also the right time for all at MU to sincerely look inward and come to the point that it was the infighting at the varsity which threw the door open for AP Pandey to come walking in as the Vice Chancellor. Time to do away with petty politics, is the first lesson that should be drawn from the MU crisis.

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