Monday, January 5, 2015

Minister reassures EIILM Univ’s protesting students

HRDD CONVENES MEETING WITH EIILM STUDENTS AND FACULTY IN FRESH MOVE TO BREAK IMPASSEGANGTOK, 05 Jan: The Human Resource Development Department convened a meeting today with the agitating students and faculty members of the Eastern Institute for Integrated Learning in Management [EIILM] here at Gangtok this afternoon. The main intent behind the meeting was to figure out a solution to the ongoing impasse at EIILM where students have been on a protest strike for 13 days now. Examinations at the university began on 19 December, 2014, but the students went on strike on 24 December, since when exams have been suspended. Even as the students protest, the government mediates and the faculty complain, the senior officials of the university remain incommunicado. Today’s meeting was chaired by the HRD Minister, RB Subba, who advised the students to take their exams while the Department tries to resolve the matter. 
Sources inform that senior officials of the university, from the Vice Chancellor to the Controller of Examinations to the Registrar and Administrator remain out of reach for clarifications of explanation. At today’s meeting it also transpired that the faculty at the university have not received their salaries for the past six months. The student protest, it may be recalled, had kicked off when rumour among the students that the University was on the verge of shutting down, leaving their courses and the fate of the education in limbo. They had begun a sit-in protest at the university campus at Budang in West Sikkim demanding answers and clarity on what was afoot.
All at the students received by way of communication from the EIILM University authorities was a letter asking them to take their exams and reassuring them that all was well. The students have rejected this communiqué and are demanding a more binding and more convincing commitment.
Today, the HRD Minister assured that the interests and future of the students and the faculty members will be protected by making alternative solutions as early as possible. He also urged the students to sit for their remaining examinations.
When contacted, the HRD Secretary, GP Upadhayaya, told Sikkim NOW! that the state is very much concerned about the future of the 250 students [most of them from Nepal and Bhutan] registered at EIILM University and is working to find alternative solution within the framework of the Act under which the University was established in Sikkim. The State Government has also sought legal opinion to tackle the ongoing impasse, he said. Meanwhile, the state government is refraining from any direct interference in the running of the University since it is a private university. 
The state government is trying to get in touch with the EIILM University Chancellor in Kolkata, however, neither the Chancellor nor any other senior official of the university can be raised at present, the government officials informed.
Interestingly, even as the EIILM University remains incommunicado to resolve the situation, it has written to the State Government accusing the agitating students of indulging in unlawful activities in the University campus [through their protest].
Sources in the Department confirm that the EILLM Chancellor, in an email sent today, has written to the Principal Secretary HRDD seeking police protection against “unlawful assembly” in the university campus. The same has been forwarded to the District Collector West who is monitoring the situation.
However, when contacted, the DIG Range of Sikkim Police clarified that no “unlawful” activity has been recorded at the University campus, situation where was being closely monitored by the SDPOs of Jorethang and Soreng. The students are sitting in a peaceful protest, the DIG stated.
It may be recalled that the Sikkim government has already registered cases against the EIILM University and has also written to the Enforcement Directorate to start investigation into a money laundering angle at the establishment. After conducting preliminary investigation, the Enforcement Directorate registered a case against the institute in March last year.

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