– Akshuna Bakshi
The National Commission for Minority Educational Institution on Tuesday, while declaring the appointment of Valson Thampu, Officer on Special Duty of St. Stephenâ€™s College as â€œpatently illegalâ€? and â€œinoperativeâ€? recommended that Delhi University take â€œurgent corrective measuresâ€? for selection of a regular Principal for the college.
Valson Thampu has been currently in DUTAâ€™s eye of storm for allegedly procuring a fake PhD certificate to secure his position in the college. â€œRev. Valson Thampu, the acting principal, St Stephens College, does not possess even the minimum eligibility for the post of principal as demanded by university regulations.â€? said Dr S. S. Rathi, the chairman of Academics for Development.
Meanwhile, there was a lot of rumpus at St. Stephenâ€™s College on Tuesday during a demonstration organized by the DUTA to protest against â€œblatant assaultâ€? by Mr. Thampu on academic freedom of teachers. The teachers demonstrated against the showcause notices issued by Thampu to two history lecturers of the college – Tasneem Suhrawardy and Sangeeta Luthra Sharma. Defending his territory, Thampu justified his action and said that the showcause notices were sent only after students complained about the teachers. “I have the complaints on record and I will very soon make them public. So far I had shied away from the media because I did not want to take the matter outside the college,â€? said Thampu
Though Mr. Thampu invited DUTA representatives for talks, DUTA president Aditya Narayan Misra said: â€œHe insisted on talking to a select group of people. We wanted him to speak to the entire DUTA Executive, which he rejected. He did not pay attention to any of our democratic demands, so there could be no discussion.â€?
On the other hand, Mr. Thampu maintained that the teachersâ€™ body was â€œnever interested in a dialogueâ€?. He said that he had readily agreed to meet the teachers. But then the entire DUTA Executive insisted on meeting him. When he refused to have a discussion with a crowd, they started shouting slogans and created a scene.
All this fomented ire amongst some students and they started opposing the DUTA protests in the college premises. â€œWe donâ€™t have a problem with DUTA staging a protest. But when they entered the college and began sloganeering, we got offended. We felt that the sanctity of our college was being violated,â€? said Boban Varghese Paul, president of the St. Stephenâ€™s College studentsâ€™ union.
The DUTAâ€™s next protest action was a protest at the VC office on February 8 to demand the unconditional withdrawal of showcause notices to the two women colleagues at St Stephenâ€™s and also for the appointment of an eligible principal at St Stephenâ€™s as now directed by the NCMEI.