Manipur Must Immediately Release Students, Professors Involved In The Manipur University Protest
Bengaluru/New Delhi: 25 September 2018 6:51 pm
Six professors and nine students of Manipur University arrested by the police should be immediately released, Amnesty International India said today. The professors and students have been arrested for a range of offences including ‘wrongful confinement’, ‘attempt to murder’, ‘kidnapping’ and ‘criminal conspiracy’.
“Students and teachers have a right to protest and the Manipur government must respect this right. Midnight raids and subsequent detentions inside a university campus, based on unsubstantiated allegations, is outright harassment,” said Arijit Sen, Programme Manager, Amnesty International India.
On 20 September, Manipur University Professor Yugindro Singh, newly appointed Pro-Vice-Chancellor and the Registrar (in charge) of the University M Shyamkesho, were opposed by a group of students and professors when they tried to assume office. The students and professors claimed that this was in contravention of the Manipur University Act 2005. On leaving the University, Yugindro Singh and M Shyamkesho filed a First Information Report which set in motion a string of events that included midnight campus raids by the police, and the detention of 89 students in different police stations. According to media reports at least 10 students were injured during the raids when police fired tear gas and rubber bullets. Meanwhile, the government has also temporarily suspended internet services in the state.
“There should be an independent investigation into the use of force by police in the university campus. Excessive use of force against protesting students in a university cannot be justified under any circumstances. Under international human rights law and standards, law enforcement officials must, as far as possible, apply non-violent means before resorting to the use of force. Even if used as a last resort, due restraint must be exercised,” said Arijit Sen.
“Freedom to dissent cannot be held hostage by those in authority. The Manipur government must ensure that people are able to peacefully express their grievances without fear of arrest,” said Arijit Sen.
Speaking to The Imphal Free Press, a student who stays in the university hostel said that Manipur University now resembles a “war zone rather than an educational institute”. She further said, “It is an act of snatching students’ freedom and a form of mental harassment.” It is also reported that armed security personnel are posted in every corner of the university. They are restricting entry and gatherings of more than five students in the University.
On 18 September 2018, an accord signed by the Manipur University, Manipur Government and the Ministry of Human Resources and Development ended a 85-day agitation against A.P. Pandey, the then Vice-Chancellor of the University. He has since been suspended pending an inquiry. The accord allowed the resumption of classes and exams, which had previously been stalled. There was a range of allegations against Pandey, including financial irregularities. Students and professors claim that Yugindro Singh, was appointed Pro Vice-Chancellor by Pandey after the latter was suspended.
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