Meghalaya favours academician as university vice chancellor


Shillong : Meghalaya has asked a central government team to appoint a local academician as vice chancellor of the North Eastern Hill University (NEHU) even as protesting students have set Oct 29 as the new deadline for removal of A.N. Rai from the post.

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The three-member team of the union human resource development (HRD) ministry, which arrived Wednesday evening, left for New Delhi Thursday and will submit its report to the HRD minister Kabil Sibal.

The team studied the student protests over the appointment of Rai. Rai, a former vice chancellor of Mizoram University, was appointed by President Pratibha Patil after Pramod Tandon completed his tenure Sep 12.

The student community under, the banner of NEHU Students Union (NEHUSU) and Meghalaya Tribal Students Coordination Committee (MTSCC), want a tribal vice chancellor to head the varsity, one of the country’s premier central universities.

Late Barrister Pakem was the only local vice chancellor since the university’s inception in 1973.

The team, led by HRD secretary Vibha Puri Das, met the faculty and non-teaching staff of NEHU and students unions. Vice Chancellor Rai, accompanied by deans and other officials, also met the central officials.

“We have heard from the governor, the state government and stakeholders of NEHU. We will submit our report to the HRD minister,” Kumar told IANS, adding the minister will take a final decision to resolve the issue.

Meanwhile, the students’ unions criticised the fact-finding team for not visiting the university campus.

“We are amazed by the style and functioning of this team, whose main purpose was to look into the NEHU issue. How can they prepare a report when they have not even visited the campus,” Kynpham Kharlyngdoh, chairman of the Coordination Committee, told IANS.

Setting Oct 29 as new deadline for removal of Rai as vice chancellor, the student leader warned of launching massive protests in the campus.

“We will not accept Rai as our vice chancellor for his tainted credentials in Mizoram University. We will continue with our non-cooperation movement till the centre appoints a new vice chancellor,” he iterated.

But Rai has made it clear he will not bow down.

The Meghalaya government asked the HRD team to appoint a local academician as vice chancellor.

“David Syiemlieh (a tribal Khasi and an eminent historian) is the best person to lead the university. He is an impeccable academician with requisite qualifications and had enough experience in administration of the university,” Deputy Chief Minister B.M. Lanong said.

Syiemlieh, a member of Indian Council of Historical Research, is currently the controller of examinations in the university.