When the pen is dangerous for the nation, why has egg become a lethal weapon in the state of Manipur? Over 89 students and 6 professors of Manipur Universities were picked up at midnight on 10 September 2018 after an FIR lodged by the Pro Vice-Chancellor Yugendro. On the streets in Manipur and in social media, the news is viral on social media, allegedly saying that those arrested students and professors attempted to murder Pro Vice-Chancellor Y Yugindro by throwing eggs. Since then the people of Manipur have made comments and jokes that “EGG” has become the most lethal weapon in Manipur.
In the wake of the protests, Pandey was sent on leave for a month on August 2. The memorandum of agreement was signed on August 16. But, early in September, Pandey announced that he would “resume” his duties, following which he even suspended the university students’ and teachers’ unions for “subversive activities”. On September 17, however, the Union ministry again suspended Pandey until the completion of the inquiry against him. This came after the state government told the Centre that the agitation against Pandey has led to serious law and order problems and an administrative crisis in the university.
Days before his suspension, Pandey appointed Y Yugindro Singh as the Manipur University pro-vice-chancellor on September 10and reinstated M Shyamkesho Singh as the Registrar-in-charge. The students’ union and the teachers’ association had objected to Y Yugindro Singh and M Shyamkesho Singh’s appointments, claiming that they amounted to a violation of the memorandum of agreement that they signed with the government to end their agitation.
Why has egg become a most lethal weapon in Manipur in Mr. N. Biren Singh government? His government begun from March 2017 and completed eighteen months and the crisis in Manipur University is going on for the last four months begun from 30 May 2018. Manipur University Student Union, Manipur University Teachers Association and Manipur University Staff Union were protesting for the removal of Vice Chancellor Pandey. MU has been shut down since then and so the colleges. The education in Manipur is badly hit and student community and parents are worried about the education and future.
The concept of an egg becoming a lethal weapon in Manipur needs to be seen from two perspectives because what has happened to Manipur University is not an isolated challenge. The same challenges are seen nationally in two different scenarios:
First, the scenario of why pen has become a lethal weapon in India, people who wrote has been killed in cold blood. Gauri Lakeshore was the latest one killed at her residence in Bangalore on 5 September 2017.
MM Kalburgi 77-year-old outspoken rationalist was killed in a manner similar to Lankesh. He fell to the bullets of two unidentified men at his residence in Dharwad, Karnataka in September 2015. Govind Pansare leftist leader and a prominent activist and rationalist were shot dead by two unidentified persons in February 2014 when he was returning home from his morning walk in Kolhapur. On August 20, 2013, two bike-borne men allegedly gunned down Narendra Dabholkar, a prominent anti-superstition crusader, during his morning walk in Pune. Assailants on a motorcycle shot Ranjan Rajdeo, a journalist with Hindi daily Hindustan, close range in May 2016. In December 2013, assailants stabbed Sai Reddy 51 years old, a reporter for the Hindi newspaper Deshbandhu, as he left a market in Basaguda village in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh. Jagendra Singh, afreelance journalist died in June 2015 from burn injuries after a police raid at his residence in Shahjahanpur, Uttar Pradesh.
They wrote against the ideas of the dominion castes and against the government of their times. The dominion caste and the government of the day could not take the dissents of these people who had the power of pens in their hands.
P. Sainath reported that in the last few years, over one thousand editors in Indian media house were asked or forced to leave their jobs. Latest is ABP News Network Managing Editor Milind Khandekar and fellow journalist Punya Prasun Bajpai because they questioned the government of the day.
Second, the scenario at universities in India, the students’ communities, teachers and staff of MU failed to see the chain that connects the similarities of what is happening now at MU with other universities like Jawaharlal Nehru University, Lucknow University, Banaras Hindu University, Jadhav University, University of Hyderabad, Film and Television Institute of India, Pune, and Madras University etc. Rohit Vemula of UoH reported worldwide as a case of how scheduled caste students were suppressed by the Brahmanism.
Kanhaya Kumar of JNU was the incident of an attempt to suppress the voice of students when I objected the attempt to take hold of the education system by the government of the day. Rohit Vemula of UoH, committed suicide, fighting for the cause of Dalits and his death brought the wave nationwide protest. Pooja Shukla of Lucknow University was denied admission for protesting against the system and denied admission. Protest against the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan in FTII, Pune in 2015, whose educational qualification he acted the role of Yudhishthira in the hugely popular Mahabharata TV series produced by BR Chopra and aired on Doordarshan between 1988-90.
Now on the ongoing protest in Manipur University is very much in the line of what has happened in the universities in different parts of India. The protesting students, teachers, and staff of the university seems to fail to see the nexus. The appointment of PA Pandey as Vice-Chancellor of Manipur University, in spite of the fact that Manipur had its own qualified candidates for thepost, is questionable. On the other hand, was it an attempt to take hold of the University with saffron educationists? This happened after the Saffron Political party took over the government for a very first time in the state of Manipur.
Madhu Chandra is Hyderabad based freelancer and former spokesperson of North East Helpline.