3 Suspended Manipur education officers apologise in CBSE affiliation case, cite "Pressure" from MLAs, groups
The three officers in the apology letters to the Manipur government said they were "compelled" to sign the NOCs under "duress" and "pressure" from "elected representatives
Three senior Manipur education department officers who were suspended on January 12 have apologised to the government in writing for giving no-objection certificates (NOCs) without following due process for schools in two districts to apply for CBSE affiliation, amid the disruption caused by the ethnic violence.
The three officers in the apology letters to the Manipur government said they were "compelled" to sign the NOCs under "duress" and "pressure" from "elected representatives, CSOs (civil society organisations), and student bodies to issue the NOCs".
Four MLAs in Churachandpur district, and two in Kangpokpi district had written to two zonal education officers (ZEOs) and one deputy inspector of school, requesting them to issue the NOCs, documents enclosed in the letters by the education officers show.
The six MLAs are among the 10 Kuki-Zo MLAs who are leading the call for a separate administration carved out from Manipur, a BJP-ruled state with 60 seats in the assembly.
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) on December 20, 2023 cancelled the affiliation of 25 schools in Manipur's Churachandpur and Kangpokpi districts, after the state government alerted it had not given NOCs to the schools to apply for affiliation in the first place.
The CBSE bylaws make it a legal requirement for state board schools to get NOCs from the state government before applying for central board affiliation.
Following the CBSE action, the Manipur government on January 12 suspended Churachandpur ZEO Jangkhohao Haokip, Kangpokpi ZEO Lhingtinneng Singsit, and deputy inspector of school L Taithul of Churachandpur's Samulamlan block.
The change of the education board from state to central in the two "hill districts" was seen as a soft attempt at formalising a new arrangement, since clashes between the hill-majority Kuki-Zo tribes and the valley-majority Meiteis began on May 3, 2023.
In the letters, the three officers said they were aware they would be violating procedures, but were not able to push back against outside pressure due to the ethnic conflict, which had disrupted government services including education, and departmental communications protocol.