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Manipur University students living in chaos & uncertainty as anti-VC protests enter Day 58

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With examinations stopped midway, no results and no admissions, students find themselves stranded academically.

New Delhi: Manipur University students are bearing the brunt of the stalemate arising from protests against vice-chancellor Adya Prasad Pandey, who faces allegations of fund misappropriation, poor management and arbitrary appointments.

Thursday marked the 57th day of the stir, which has seen the deans of the university’s six schools and 32 heads of departments resign in solidarity with the students, with the administration also shutting down the office.

This has led to examinations, declaration of results and admissions at the university’s 86 affiliated undergraduate colleges remaining suspended, thrusting the academic life of students, especially those completing their final year, into chaos.

Students in trouble

Third-year students at Manipur University have taken their sixth-semester exams, but the results are yet to be declared. So, while their peers across the country get set for master’s admissions and jobs, students at this campus remain uncertain about the road ahead.

Mungbiakisam, 20, an English Honours student looking to pursue post-graduation at the North Eastern Hill University (N.E.H.U) in Shillong, said he was staring at a lost year.

“I was applying at N.E.H.U, but the admission form had a column called undergraduate results, which had to be compulsorily filled up and I couldn’t. So I’ll have to wait for another year now,” he said.

“We don’t even know if our papers have been checked yet,” said Samuel Khammuonlien, also a final-year student.

“There are enough bandhs and blockades that already affect our academics in this politically disturbed state,” he said. “This situation at the university is sad and students are protesting right in the middle of their exams, and when results have not been declared.”

“Even in 2016, bandhs over the Inner Line Permit cut short our semester from four months to just two months of classes,” Samuel said.

Alicia, who is pursuing her master’s at the university, was taking her second-semester examination when the protests began. She could appear for only a few papers before the university shut down and the examinations were called off.

“I don’t know when the examinations will resume. There is a lot of uncertainty,” said Alicia.

Holed up in the hostel

Hostel students, meanwhile, find themselves grappling with an entirely different problem. While those from nearby towns have returned home, the ones who stayed back find themselves struggling in the face of a severe financial crunch at the hostels.

The university administration has not been able to release funds to the hostels, and many professors are pooling in money in order to provide the students with basic food and utilities, Manipur University Students’ Union (MUSU) president Dayamoy told ThePrint.

“The government authorities are just delaying the entire process. A peaceful conclusion should be brought in the general interest of the students. If the V-C is removed, the problem will come to an end,” he said.

“Everybody’s demand is that the V-C should be removed and the examination results should be declared fast,” Dayamoy added.

Meanwhile, several fresh school graduates hoping for admission to the university have been unable to do so.

Intractable problem

On Sunday, in an all-party meeting headed by chief minister N. Biren Singh it was resolved that a pro V-C be appointed and the incumbent V-C be sent on a leave, awaiting results from the fact-finding committee.

However, on Monday, members of MUSU marched towards the state assembly against the government’s “failure” to meet the students’ demands.

Earlier this month, the ministry of human resource development (HRD) re-constituted a fact-finding committee to look into the allegations against Pandey, who came to the campus from the Banaras Hindu University.

The new panel will be headed by retired Meghalaya High Court judge Nand Kumar and will have UGC joint secretary J.K. Tripathi and Surat Singh from the HRD ministry as members.

The first fact-finding committee, comprising only Tripathi and Singh, was rejected by the students and faculty on the grounds that they had earlier worked with Pandey.

The new committee has been asked to submit its report within a month after field visits and consultations with various stakeholders.

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