Imphal Sept 23,
North-East Forum for International Solidarity (NEFIS) activists staged protests across India against the brutal crackdown on students and teachers at Manipur University on Saturday. The protests were held at Delhi, Chandigarh, Assam and Hyderabad and saw large participation from other progressive organizations and common students. At Delhi, Krantikari Yuva Sangathan (KYS) activists participated in solidarity and at Chandigarh members of Manipur Students’ Association Chandigarh participated. An effigy of N. Biren Singh was also burnt for his collusion with union BJP govt in curbing students-teachers’ movement. It should be known that Manipur Police personnel entered the university campus in the intervening night of 20th-21st September. The personnel barged into boys hostels, paraded male students and brutally assaulted them. Later, when teachers staying inside the campus sought to intervene, tear gas shells were fired upon them. At the time of writing of this press release, it was reported that 89 students and 6 teachers were under illegal detention. Also, 55 students are reportedly missing since the raids in hostels last night. The extent of brutality can be guessed by the fact that tear gas shells and rubber bullets were fired at students inside the boys’ hostel located in the campus. Even those brutally injured in the crackdown are being illegally detained and not being allowed to exit MU campus. Members of the students’ union and those teachers and common students, who were in the forefront of 85 day long agitation demanding removal of V-C A.P. Pandey, were specifically targeted. It should also be noted that the V-C was sent on leave following the students’ steadfast agitation, before he forcefully resumed office in September. He was later forced to proceed on leave pending an inquiry against his irregularities. However, the V-C had appointed Y Yugindro Singh as Pro V-C, who is reportedly close to him. The crackdown has been executed at his behest with the active support of Manipur govt. It should be known that BJP is infamous for its undemocratic and anti-social mentality and is out to terrorize progressive students and teachers in universities. At various university campuses, from Hyderabad Central University, JNU, DU to now MU, RSS’s student wing ABVP has unleashed a reign of terror. Across India in different universities ABVP has shamelessly attacked, assaulted not only student and activists of progressive student organizations, but also students, teachers and cultural groups speaking against their opinion. Manipur University is among those university campuses, which have been specifically targeted due to the students’ and teachers’ indomitable struggle against the anti-people policies of BJP govt at the centre and its stooges who have been appointed as heads at various public institutions. The crackdown comes amidst the state and Union BJP governments’ overt support to V-C Pandey. Earlier too, in August the state BJP govt brutally assaulted the students involved in the movement. After sending the V-C on leave under huge pressure, the state government had resorted to brutal measures to curb the movement. A students’ union (MUSU) councilor was arrested by Manipur Police on 4th August. The arrest was followed by the dismantling of the dais which had been erected at the site where protests had been going on for more than 2 months. NEFIS stated that educational spaces and university campuses should be a free space to engage in critical thought and dialogue. It strongly condemns strongly condemns the recent developments at MU which are connected with the governments’ resolve to curb the democratic movement at MU and stands in solidarity with MU community and resolves to continue its struggle even amidst crackdown. NEFIS demands that all the students and teachers who are detained should be released unconditionally. The state government should take action against police officers and personnel who were involved in the raid and violence. It also demands that all security forces including Assam Rifles camp should be removed from Manipur University. NEFIS also calls upon the larger civil society to extend support to the struggle in order to reclaim the university for the people and especially for saving the future of public education in the state.
Rinku Khumukcham, Editor of Imphal Times has more than 15+ years in the field of Journalism. A seasoned editor, was a former editor of ISTV News. He resides in Keishamthong Elangbam Leikai, with his wife and parents.