Imphal— Allegations of systemic discrimination and deliberate failure of tribal students have recently come to light in Manipur University, sparking outrage and demands for justice amidst ongoing communal tensions in the region. The accusations point towards a stark divide between communities, with allegations suggesting that teachers and employees in the university belong to the same community, which has raised concerns of bias in the education system.
The controversy centers around the results of the BA degree program in Psychology, a ground breaking offering in the state, exclusively available at Rayburn College of Lemka. The results for the fifth-semester exams were declared on August 22, 2023, revealing that out of the 76 students who had appeared for the examination, only 10 were shown to have passed.
Even in what is considered the easiest course, Modern Indian Language (MIL), tribal students have shockingly received zero marks. MIL typically involves the study of one's mother tongue, making this situation even more concerning. The ITLF alleges that such discrimination may be influenced by the fact that many of the employees at Manipur University belong to the Maitai community.
Following the announcement of these deeply troubling results, tribal organizations and students took swift action. They lodged verbal complaints with the controller of examinations at Manipur University and convened a press conference to voice their grievances. Within a mere 2-3 hours, a new set of results was released, drastically altering the previous outcome. The number of students who had passed surged from 10 to 41.
A student, who chose to remain anonymous, disclosed the ordeal to The Mooknayak, stating, "My report card only had my name, roll number, and the rest was blank. Now one is forced to ask whether they have chosen a roll number casually."
The Indigenous Tribal Liberation Front (ITLF), which has been at the forefront of these allegations, asserts that tribal students are deliberately being failed, thereby denying them their fundamental right to education. Additionally, they claim that caste discrimination is rampant within the university, further exacerbating the divide.
The situation in Manipur has been further exacerbated by communal violence that has erupted in various districts of the state. According to ITLF, as of May 3, 2023, Kuki-Zo students studying in various colleges and universities in the Imphal Valley have been subjected to brutal violence, including assault, torture, and murder. These grave accusations have intensified concerns about the safety and well-being of tribal students.
In response to these troubling developments, the ITLF has made several demands:
Urgent Investigation: The University Grants Commission (UGC) of India is urged to constitute a committee to investigate these allegations of discrimination, harassment, and oppression of Kuki-Zo students. Appropriate action must be taken to ensure justice.
Transfer of Students: The UGC and the Ministry of Education are called upon to swiftly approve the transfer of all Kuki-Zo students from Manipur University to other reputable state universities. This would enable students from different courses and departments to continue their education without facing discrimination or undue burdens.
Comprehensive Audit: A comprehensive audit of Manipur University's functioning and processes is deemed necessary to prevent future incidents of discrimination. The primary goal is to ensure that every student, regardless of their background, is treated fairly and provided equal opportunities for success.
Story Translated by Geetha Sunil Pillai