IMPHAL, June 11(Newmai News Network): All Colleges Tribal Students’ Organization Manipur (ACTSOM) has expressed today strong resentment at the apathy of the government of Manipur in resolving the crisis besetting Ukhrul’s Pettigrew College where a student was turned back late last month from appearing in exam because of unavailability of question paper. The students’ body warned that the ongoing protest at the college, entering its 18th day, will be further intensified if the concerned authorities do not promptly address the issue. It has also been asking for the award of marching order to the “disgraced” principal of the college.
On May 30, a student of Pettigrew College had to return home without writing History paper because the college authority inexplicably overlooked the fact that the question paper for the lone History student was not “requisitioned” from Manipur University.
An agitation was launched at the behest of the students’ union of the college almost concurrently with the submission of memorandum to this effect to Manipur education minister DD Thaisii. The college has witnessed un-academic activities for some times now and has reportedly remained closed for the past 18 days demanding the ouster of the principal among other things.
A four-member team from Higher Education Directorate was immediately pressed into action by the minister in a fact finding mission to the college.
Even as the visiting team refused to spell out specific timeframe within which the issue would be sorted out, students have been overwhelmed by anxiety and hopelessness. There has not been any intimation to the college authority to that effect and no attempt has been made from the government to resolve the stalled issue, said president of ACTSOM R Henry Liangpuang to Newmai News Network today.
Mr Liangpuang launched a scathing attack at the principal of Pettigrew College Mashun Stone of financial irregularity and cheating the students and teachers of the college off their money. He accused the principal of charging double the amount from students for admission and examination fees, and cornering certain percentage from the salaries of part time teachers of the college.
“Leveling serious allegations of mismanagement, in-competency and misappropriation of fund on the principal Mashun Stone, the students (of the college) have been picketing the principal’s office since May 25 last leading to breakdown of college administration,” reported a local newspaper.
ACTSOM leaders informed Newmai News Network that the college has been embroiled in financial mismanagement because of which classes and administrative functions have been disrupted intermittently. The stand off between the college authority and the students have been going on for the past 18 days since the intensification of the stir following the uncovering of mismanagement and dereliction of duty of the principal, said the students’ organization.
As the crisis escalated, Manipur University on May 30 washed its hands off saying that the college authority did not ask to requisition History question paper for BA 2nd year.
The student’s body maintained that the issue of part time teachers in the hill districts is despicable. Mr Liangpuang said that what has happened in Pettigrew College may as well be generalize for the entire hill districts of Manipur.
The principal of Pettigrew College conducts himself illegally by deduction a hefty amount from the salaries of part time teachers of the college, he said, adding that such an abhorrent behavior of the principal has eaten into the integrity of the teachers who are now ridden in corrupt practices themselves.
The students’ body demanded that the teachers who play truant from colleges, which has become the pretext for principals to deduct their salaries, must either be sacked or asked to report for duty on a regular basis.
ACTSOM has also alleged that in most colleges in the hills, part time teachers outnumber regular teachers which they claim is the modus operandi adopted by college authorities to engage in illegal deduction from the salaries of the part timers. The part time teachers on their parts can not raise the issue as they are being targeted at the Achilles’ heel by the authority and therefore end up becoming co-conspirators in the act of “stealing”, the students’ body said, adding that such mindless absenteeism must therefore be rein in immediately.
The principal of Pettigrew College must be given a marching order for dereliction of duty and his total disregard for the welfare and future of the students, said ACTSOM president R Henry Liangpuang to Newmai News Network.
While urging Pettigrew College authority to bear full responsibility of students who have back-papers because of the negligence of the principal, ACTSOM said that it will support the cause of the aggrieved students and intensify the ongoing struggle if the authorities refused to address the issue immediately.