Rally taken out, eight injured, Govt accused of paying protesters


IMPHAL,6th Aug: Rallies were taken out and sit-ins staged in various parts of the state demanding immediate reopening of Manipur University, saving the future of students and restoration of academic atmosphere in the varsity.

In all eight persons, including students and teachers of the varsity were injured when police fired smoke bombs and tear gas shells at the students inside the varsity. The students were attempting to take out a rally from the campus after protesters from outside who had carried out a similar march till the university staged a sit-in protest in front of the university gate at Canchipur.

Amid the tense situation, senior most professor Professor W Vishwanath Singh of Department of Life Science assumed office as VC in-charge in accordance with the Manipur University Act. However, he has stated that he will not work without the consent of the people.

Earlier in the day, large numbers of people took out a rally along Singjamei Canchipur road demanding the immediate reopening of university and restoration of the academic atmosphere. The rally ended in front of the University’s gate wherein the protesters staged a sit-in demonstration. Personnel of Manipur Police under the supervision of Imphal West SP took up measures to prevent any unwanted incident.

Students within the university then attempted to take out a rally but were blocked by the police. When they tried to push through the barricade, police fired tear gas shells and smoke bombs to drive the crowd back into the campus, injuring 8 people including teachers and students in the process.

Speaking to media persons regarding the incident, MUSU general secretary Laishram Kenedy alleged that some supporters of VC AP Pandey fooled the 'mothers' into taking out the rally towards the campus. The police dispersed the relay hunger strikers from in front of the university gate on the ground of restriction imposed under section CrPC 144 in the area, he added.

However, it is questionable why the police did not drive away the protesters who landed at the university gate despite enforcement of restriction under CrPC 144. Thus, the only conclusion is that the rally had been planned by AP Pandey’s supporters and is backed by the state government, he asserted.

It is also appalling that tear gas shells and smoke bombs were fired at the people within the university to prevent them from coming out, instead of dispersing the crowd outside. It is impossible for the organisers/supporters not to be present within such a large rally. Thus, the persons responsible for organising the rally must clarify themselves as soon as possible, Kenedy demanded.

The general secretary further said that some personnel of Manipur police in civil dresses were caught by the students while attempting to enter the varsity through its back gate. When questioned, the personnel replied that they were trying to gather information.

If it was really their intention, then they should have entered though the main gate. However, this incident has raised suspicions if the fire incidents in the university some weeks back were related to such acts. Despite this, the students safely handed over the civil personnel to the police, Kenedy informed. He further appealed against repeating such acts in the future.

With regard to Monday’s protest, MU Manipuri department teaching faculty member Dr Naorem Sanatomba said that the chaos that occurred today is all part of state government’s plan. They attempted to portray the mothers in a bad light when all the mothers participating in the rally were demanding for the removal of VC Pandey. It is shameful that the government has stooped to such low, he stated.

It is also shameful for the police to allow the public rally to take place while CrPC 144 is still in place. If it is necessary for VC Pandey to remain in his post, then everyone at the university is ready to surrender his or her lives and let the university disappear, he remarked.

Contending that the joint protest of MUSU, MUTA and MUSA demanding removal of VC Pandey is a reasonable protest, he urged for formation of an independent enquiry committee and rejected any semblance to a simple departmental enquiry committee.

Meanwhile, VC in-charge Prof Vishwanath told media persons at MUTA office located within the campus, that in accordance with Manipur University Act, which states that the senior most professor must take charge in the absence of the VC, he has accepted the post. The professor disclosed that he had taken the charge as disciplinary action could be mounted against him for refusal apart from the pressures from all sides to take up the position.

Maintaining that he had accepted the post as per the rules only, Vishwanath stated that he would not work at the office without the consent and support of the people. He conveyed that he had received instruction from the HRD ministry on August 3, which was released by the ministry on August 2.

Professor Vishwanath then said that he would urge the ministry for formation of an independent enquiry committee instead of the present committee and to clarify on the correlation between the leave of VC Pandey and the appointment of VC in-charge. If the Ministry fails to agree to his request, he would resign from the post of VC in-charge. The VC in-charge further condemned the police action of firing tear gas shells at the students and the teachers of the university. He appealed to the police not to repeat such acts in the future and also cautioned security personnel from entering the university campus without prior permission from the university. Monday witnessed protest rallies and demonstrations to demand resumption of all activities in MU.

Hundreds of people came out on the street in Kangpokpi district headquarters in protest against impasse and demanded the state government to bring normalcy. The rally organised by Kangpokpi Public Forum (KPF) stated from community hall, Kangpokpi around 11.30 am and ended at DC office via NH 2. KPF convener Alien Khongsai and co-convenor Thangtinlen Haokip on behalf of the public submitted a memorandum containing four-point charter of demands related to restoration of normalcy in the university instead of playing politics; to save careers of thousands of students; to bring amicable solution between the VC and agitators; and to implement a fully functional DRDA and DEO, Kangpokpi district.

Students and public of Kakching district also staged sit-in protest and took out rally at Kakching Keithel demanding solution to the current impasse in Manipur University and save the career of students.
All Kakching Students’ Union (AKSU) and Joint Non-Government Voluntary Organisation (JNGVO) jointly organised the protest during which political parties were urged to refrain from politicising the issue

Similar protest was also carried out at Yairipok Khoirom, Kekru Heitroipokpi, Kiyam Babu Bazar, Charangpat Maning Leikai, Mamang Leikai, Icham Khunou, Wangkhem, Singga , Yairipok Keithel. In Senapati town, a large number of students carrying banners and placards marched across the market silently on two sides of the road. School students in uniform from various institutions took part in the rally. In Ukhrul, the students gathered at a ground and marched through the streets of the district headquarters demanding reopening of the university.

Protests in the form of rallies and human chain formations were also staged in Kshetrigao assembly constituency in Imphal East district. The protesters shouted slogans in front of the DC office, Porompat. Endorsing the demand for restoration of normalcy in the varsity, a public rally was also carried out along the Uripok-Kangchup road and Sagolband section of the Imphal-Jiribam highway on Monday. Organised by People’s Peace and Development Committee, the rally kick-started from Lamboi Khongnangkhong and culminated at Tera Lukram Leirak community hall after covering Uripok and Wahengbam Leikai.

In pursuance of the demand for immediate resumption of academic activities in MU, sit-in demonstrations were also staged at Andro Khunjao, Uchon, Huikap, Ngariyan Muslim, Angtha, Poireikhongjin, Toupokpi Muslim, Laimanai, Top Chingtha, Ningthounai Muslim, Yambem, Changamdabi Muslim, Keithelmanbi, Moirangpurel, Tumukhong and Nambram village under Andro assembly constituency.

Locals of Khurai assembly constituency took out a rally at Khurai area. Demanding settlement of all the prevailing crises in the state, public of Bishnupur district took out a peace rally through Bishnupur Bazar. The rally was participated by people from Nambol, Oinam, Bishnupur, Moirang, Thanga and Kumbi ACs. Placards inscribed with ‘Open Manipur University immediately,’ ‘We want peace,’ Stop doing politics in MU,’ ‘Let’s save the careers of students,’ Let the new VC in-charge perform his duty,’ etc., were used during the rally. Students, public and elected representatives of Jiribam district organised a protest over various issues being faced by the state on Monday.

Initially, the organisers planned to hold a protest rally. However, inclement weather condition prevented the rally and they had to carry out a silent protest on the highway. The protesters shouted slogans against shutdown of Manipur University, bandh & blockade, violation of rights of common people while demanding peace, harmony and development.

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