news Monday, July 27, 2015 - 05:30
An issue brewing for over a year in this small town of Puducherry has finally blown over.   Since Monday morning, at least around 1000 students began protesting and blocking the gates of the Pondicherry University demanding the ouster of Vice-Chancellor Chandra Krishnamurthy.   Students belonging to hostels within the campus squatted outside the campus and blocked both gates to the University thus preventing day-scholars and faculty from entering in.   A controversy that has shown no signs of dying has finally reached its tipping point.   For over a year now, teaching and non-teaching staff have been protesting, staging flash strikes to demand the removal of the VC over charges of plagiarism, an improperly conducted appointment as well as on a host of irregularities and maladministration concerns on campus.    “It’s a complete students' movement. They have requested the support from the teaching staff,” said a staff of the college from inside the campus. University buses bringing in students from different areas across the town have been abandoned along the ECR as no one is allowed into the campus.   Though the crux of the problem remained the removal of the VC, the issue which has been brewing for a while now, blew over, when students began striking last week complaining of maladministration and negligence in provision of facilities. Calls for students to join in with the massive protest were made earlier, however, soon after, the PU administration issued a circular warning participating students of violating the code of conduct.    “Last week there were flash strikes at the hostels,” said one staff member. Students are protesting over denial of facilities with complaints over thesis delays, scholarship problems and non-provision of hostel facilities for meritorious students.   Protests are not new to PU however. In April this year, over two hundred faculty members of picketed outside the VC Krishnamurthy’s office demanding her removal over her academic violations.     (Image courtesy: @ThatAnuragNair)   Over the course of time, staff (both teaching and non-teaching) have taken on the issue legally over irregularities in college administration and have also successfully got stay orders against the Vice-Chancellor in a few . “Now there are currently ten cases against her,” said one staff.   Apart from allegations of mal-administration, the main issues plaguing the VC are over plagiarism. Of the three books mentioned in her infamous CV, two were not published all, and one was copied verbatim from papers written by legal experts.   Even her appointment was plagued in controversy. Done by the President of India from a list of three persons provided in alphabetical order, an RTI reply revealed that the former Union minister Pallam Raju forwarded her file and made an additional recommendation for her.   Discussing the VC, a few months ago, Dastagiri Reddy, the secretary of the Pondicherry University Teachers’ Association told The News Minute, “She is behaving in an autocratic manner. She has no respect for the rules for the University. She has handpicked some people and installed them in key positions.”   "Important positions like that of the Registrar, Finance Officer, and the director in the University were given to people handpicked by the VC. Now, they are filled with faculty who are in temporary positions", he said.     But what faculty and students are demanding now is simple.   It’s been at least four months since we made a complaint to the MHRD over all these violations, says the same staff member. There are has been no response so far. The members of Pondicherry University Teachers’ Association (PUTA) which has been driving these protests for over a year even made its mark in New Delhi where it organised a protest at Jantar Mantar. Though members met the Minister of Human Resources Development,  Smriti Irani and government intervention was promised, nothing has been done so far.   PUTA has also started a petition detailing all allegations against the VC that has slowly gained traction.    According to reports, police force on standby at the institution controlled the situation. A reputable institution, under the government as a Central University, it has been said that it is the first time that in over 30 years such a wide scale protest was being held.   
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