Imphal, Aug 9,
Ningombam Bupenda Meitei, a guest lecturer in Manipur University’s philosophy department, was asked to make his political affiliations clear by the head of department. In a letter dated July 23, head of philosophy department asked Ningombam Bupenda whether he is a primary member of a political party and whether he is a designated spokesperson of any political party.
Ningombam Bupenda Meitei, who has appeared on many occasions in public spaces as the spokesperson of Congress in Manipur, was asked the similar question again on August 3 as he did not respond to the earlier enquiry from the head of philosophy department. Ningombam Bupenda Meitei did not respond again. Given this, the administrator of Manipur University terminates the service of Ningombam Bupenda Meitei as guest lecturer in the department on August 6 in the second month of his appointment. In the termination order, it is mentioned that Ningombam Bupenda Meitei was terminated for disobeying the orders of the superiors as he did not reply to the enquiries of the head of the department.
It is not clear whether the termination is over his failure to response to a clarification sought by HOD and the Administrator (i/c VC) or his political affiliation with Congress party.
But questions being asked by everyone are - Why was Ningombam Bupenda asked those questions? There is no clarity on the purpose of asking the questions when one cannot be discharged from a teaching position given his political affiliation. Moreover, many imminent scholars such as Prof. Khogen, Prof. Joykumar and Prof. Gangumei have been very active in both academics and politics too.
A learned member of the academic community in Manipur, when contacted by Imphal Times on matter, said that there are no such rules that being a member of a political party disqualifies one from teaching positions in the university.
Federation of Central University Teachers Association (FEDCUTA) has called the termination of Ningombam Bhupenda “arbitrary” and has condemned the action of MU authority on this matter. The teachers’ body called the termination an imposition of the ideology of the ruling BJP government in Manipur University.
The FEDCUTA statement stated that such actions spring out of attempts to impose CCS rules in universities which are contrary to building a free and fair academic atmosphere in a university.
“Indeed in the past and even currently even full time teachers in the universities have exercised this freedom and even contested elections on the tickets of various political parties. Academic freedom has meant the freedom to carry through one’s beliefs and convictions in the political arena. The FEDCUTA believes that this termination of Bupenda Meitei, who belongs to a different political party and ideology, comes out of an authoritarian imposition of the ideology of the ruling BJP government in the Manipur state on the Manipur University. The termination of Mr.Metei is meant to stamp out all constitutional freedoms from the University and carry out a politically vindictive agenda.”, the statement added.
The FEDCUTA appeals to all the democratic forces in the country to come together and vigorously oppose this move and demands the reinstatement of Bupenda Meitei.
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The statement was from Federation of Central Universities' Teachers' Associations (FEDCUTA).