Fact-finding team has not found any evidence of corruption against him.
Manipur University has been witnessing violent protests by students for over 50 days now and has been shut down by protesters demanding the removal of Vice-Chancellor Adya Prasad Pandey, but his alleged “high political network” has been saving him from any action, sources have said. Pandey has been accused of financial irregularities and irregularities in appointments, but initial reports of the “fact finding team” set up early this month to investigate the row have not found any evidence of corruption against him.
The students’ protests have been continuing since 31 May and these even turned violent, but the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has allegedly not taken any action against Pandey. The protesters have alleged that in a Christian-dominated university, Pandey was appointed to carry forward the “Hindutva agenda” of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which led to confrontation in the university.
A teacher of Manipur University said: “Pandey’s political affiliation is not hidden to anyone; he comes from Varanasi and before being appointed the V-C of Manipur University, he was teaching at the Banaras Hindu University. He joined Manipur University in 2016 and since then, he has been advancing the RSS agenda in the university. Even Pandey’s wife, Veena Pandey, is national vice-president of the BJP’s Mahila Morcha.”
On the condition of anonymity, another teacher of the university said, “The protest which started on 31 May was the culmination of ongoing anger against Pandey due to his political affiliation. Pandey’s closeness to the BJP and RSS is the bone of contention in the university.”
The Manipur University Students’ Union (MUSU) has accused Pandey of being involved in corruption, not following rules in appointments, misappropriation in disbursement of funds and favouring the BJP’s students’ wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad on campus.
A student from Manipur University, told The Sunday Guardian: “We demand Pandey’s removal as he has failed in discharging his duties properly as per the norms prescribed. He is also involved in financial irregularities, irregularities in appointments, and saffronisation of the university.”
However, the initial reports of the “fact-finding team” which was set up early this month to investigate the row, have not found any evidence of corruption so far against Pandey. A source close to the fact-finding team told The Sunday Guardian: “In the initial investigation, the fact finding team did not come across any evidence that could suggest that the V-C was involved in any wrongdoing on university campus. The team has also revealed that he was made a target for his political affiliation.” Members of the fact-finding team include J.K. Tripathi, Joint Secretary of UGC, Surat Singh, Deputy Secretary, MHRD, and former Chief Justice of Meghalaya, T. Nandakumar. The team started its investigation on 10 July and is yet to submit its report to the MHRD.
The protesters have boycotted the fact-finding team and have said that the students’ union and the teachers’ union of Manipur University would not support the fact-finding team unless the government accepted their demand to remove Pandey.