Graft, nepotism slur: KU VC, teacher union lock horns

2014-04-05

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The stand off between the Kathmandu University (KU) authorities and student unions seems to deepen after professors’ union also backed the students’ move including their demand to end corruption at the university. 

Two student unions have padlocked KU for the last nine days over a row on the Student Welfare Council election.

“Though students’ election result is blamed for the present turmoil, there are more serious reasons for the current state of KU,” said Bibhuti Ranjan Jha, president Kathmandu University Professors’ Association. Jha claimed that Vice-Chancellor Suresh Raj Sharma who is at the helm of the university for two decades “has been promoting corruption and turning KU into a recruitment centre for his kith and kin”.

During his 20 years in office as the executive chief of the university, Sharma has recruited over a dozen of his relatives in various posts of KU without any competitive exams, claim student and professor unions. Jha blamed that Sharma recruited his brother Mukund Prasad Sharma as the chief administrative offer and his brother-in-law Damodar Gautam as a professor at KU School of Arts without open competition. Mukunda, who entered the university service as a lecturer, was shifted to the administrative department because of his dismal performance in his master’s degree, the unions maintain.

Similarly, Manish Pokhrel, VC’s nephew, became chief at the Department of Computer Science without facing any competitive tests. “In addition, the construction contract of School of Management building at Gwarko is given to his samdi (son’s father-in-law),” Jha informed. He blamed VC Sharma for promoting graft and nepotism at the university.

However, Sharma said he recruited them because of their merit and competence. “Gautam is renowned for his knowledge in International Relations and Pokhrel was one of the first few graduates in Computer Engineering in the country,” Sharma claimed. Sharma also challenged the professors to knock at the CIAA’s doors if they think he has promoted graft in the institution. “I suggest that they seek a legal remedy rather than go to the media.” Meanwhile, Nepal Student Union (NSU) and All Nepal National Free Student Union (ANNFSU), the student wings of the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML, respectively, have padlocked KU’s central office in Dhulikhel since March 7.

The UCPN (Maoist)-aligned All Nepal National Independent Student Union-Revolutionary (ANNISU-R) had padlocked the university on March 1 alleging irregularity in the Council election held in Feb. 28. It gave up its stance after KU forged an agreement with the union to postpone the election and form a panel to probe election procedure. NSU and ANNFSU locked the university protesting the agreement it signed with ANNISU-R.

(Source: The Kathmandu Post)