TODAY -

Justice for Dr. Hanjabam Shukhdeba Sharma

Khingba Luwangcha *

Manipur University Library at Manipur University (MU), Canchipur :: April 2012
Manipur University Library at Manipur University (MU), Canchipur in April 2012 :: Pix - Phurailatpam Banti



Does the incident that took place in UGC-Academic Staff College, Manipur University tell us something about the very way our existential moorings are dictated by violence and that we have accepted violence as a way of life, ingrained in our culture and finally that violence or the unspoken threat makes one silently bear the humiliations thrown against us daily?

Punching of an Assistant Professor of Indira Gandhi National Tribal University, Regional Campus Manipur (a central university) by another senior Professor of Manipur University on October 10, 2013 during an Orientation Course says volume about the decadence of Manipur University. And the manner in which the Vice Chancellor of Manipur University has intervened further points to the fact that goodaism, militarized attitude as well as criminals elements are nurtured in the University.

Say for example, the Vice Chancellor instead of punishing the culprit, immediately visited the UGC Academic Staff College after the incident and advised Professor Moirangthem Mani, Director UGC Academic Staff College, Manipur University, who violently punched Dr. Shukhdeba without any provocation, to refrain from speaking to the media.

The following day, the Vice Chancellor himself took a class when the participants complained to him formally about the incident. He took a class on "Ethics". Perhaps in his eyes the violent act committed by his long-time friend-colleague and comrade-in-arms was ethical. Then, the Vice Chancellor declared the UGC Academic Staff College an Official holiday on Monday, the 14th October, 2013. Now, there are news that Prof. Mani would be relieved from duty, appoint him as Dean of Humanities and install his wife (Mani's) Prof. Sanatombi as the Director of UGC Academic Staff College, Manipur University.

Is it the first violent act of transgression committed by Prof. Mani, cracking up his egg-head, is a vital question? What I gathered is that no, this is not the first time. He along with his wife Sanatombi of Manipuri Department has been terrorizing the student as well as the teaching and non-teaching staff of the university. These are facts attested by almost every person in the University.

Allegations ranges from how Sanatombi and husband have demanded golden necklaces from research scholars who works under their guidance, demanded baby sitting, mopping of floor and percentage cuts from the fellowship granted to the research scholars, etc. Prof. Mani has the habit of throwing books at students during class hours, bashing up anyone who questions him including teachers from outside the state. In his drunken state of mind, even he's gone to the length of declaring that he has beaten up every Vice Chancellor of the University, except the current one!

The reason why they have not been reprimanded is on account of the fact that Prof. Mani seemingly enjoys the backing of some powerful groups. Gun and clique culture have saved their skins all this while. And over the years, they have become high handed and autocratic. Perhaps, Prof. HNK Sharma, the calculative and timid Vice Chancellor is intimidated by this very fact. In doing so, what HNK does not realize is that he is harboring a criminal in his university, which is condemnable.

I am also equally baffled by the silence of the teaching community. Whether they personally know Dr. Shukhdeba and thus extend their solidarity is another question. When the very dignity of their fellow academic is violated by an egg-head, why the cumulative silence?

The ethical standard and norm set by the University Grants Commission expected from a teacher of higher education has been violated but still it seems like the fear psychosis have gripped them alike is preventing them from speaking up. The mute question is how long this can go on?

At least by Sunday, I expected few solidarity calls and condemnations but that did not happen. On the part of the various college teachers associations, I believe they want to tread the safe side as Manipur University is the parent body to which every college in Manipur is affiliated. Thus, any form of complaint against the parent body or to the Vice Chancellor is likely to harm them. This I believe is the line of thinking.

Then what about the student's community? Gone are the days when student's associations in Manipur took up meaningful and substantial issues. The very fact a teacher was violated inside a classroom, in front of his colleagues by an egg-head, who wears his attitude on his sleeves does not provoke them. Thanks to Manipur Students Federation for the initial act of condemnation but then what? None of the student's organizations have intervened in a meaningful manner.

When a criminal case is pending against the accused, the Orientation Classes must be stopped. The Vice Chancellor in his hunger to get the UGC Academic Staff College accreditated by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council, Bangalore an autonomous academic body seem to have prevailed over the students organizations. These reveals the uncomfortable spiral momentum of how violence gets to be transformed as a culture in our already trouble torn society.

The participants of the Orientation Course are equally to be blamed about this sorry state of affairs. While the incident has been termed as unfortunate and although the participants actually know the manner in which the whole programme was conducted, none had the guts to complain. From Day One, participants were kept in the dark about the structure of the course.

One fine day, unannounced, an ad hoc teacher would turn up, begin the class with a word of apology that she/he was informed a day or two earlier to take the class, and as a result unprepared. This went on and on. Even the enthusiastic appearance of the VC a day after the incident talks volume about the very unstructured manner in which the whole course under the directorship of the egg-head Prof. Mani was undertaken.

Now the participants are divided, some especially cronies of Mani and VC dare to say that there no incidence of physical assault. It must be noted that two participants acted as emissaries of the VC on the day of the incident and requested to enter into an "amicable negotiation". This is the unfortunate turn of events, and I won't be wrong to assert that they do not possess the simple quality to qualify as a teacher.

Just wondering, how the hell they would groom intellectuals of the future Manipur. Others are apprehensive about certificates, and thus, are not ready to even demand justice.

By now it must be obvious to the readers that this is a highly motivated and partial style of presentation pleading for justice to Dr. Hanjabam Shukhdeba. Certainly, I admit. And I do not mind taking up the issues furthermore, precisely on the ground that Manipur University is a moth-eaten, clique driven and highly corrupted university.

I stand to defend these charges. If I am able to prick your conscience by bringing out the dirty linens that remain hidden in the closet of the current Vice Chancellor, who allows his cronies in the form of Prof. Mani and his wife to run amok in the campus, and make you speak out, then I believe, changes are possible in the University.

Otherwise, be happy with the state of affairs; allow yourself and your children to be subdued by violence, even at the cost of their lives. It is moment of solidarity and action.

Remove unethical and violent elements from the campus. Let's let the nation know that violence cannot steal away your rights.

Punish Prof. Mani and the incompetent O'Brien.

I personally appeal to all concerned to kindly intervene and contribute your mites in delivering justice to Dr. Hanjabam Shukhdeba Sharma.


* Khingba Luwangcha wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao (English Edition)
This article was webcasted on Ocotber 18, 2013.


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