Srinagar: As Kashmir University Vice-Chancellor Prof Khurshid Iqbal Andrabi’s tenure is set to come to an unceremonious end after the High Court rejected his extension appeal, things are now coming to the fore as to why Raj Bhavan wanted him out.
Apart from illegal appointments made by Prof Andrabi during his tenure, it was his “recalcitrant attitude” that made things worse for him, a number of KU officials say.
Read Narrator’s January edition’s cover story: Kashmir University: Ailing at 70
People had a chance to see a trailer of Prof Andrabi’s attitude in December 2016 when he nearly came to blows with a Deputy-Superintendent Police on Srinagar-Jammu highway when the latter peeled off the tinted film from his vehicle and made him wait for 15-20 minutes on the road. The video of that incident went viral on social media.
The hallmark of Prof Andrabi’s tenure can be summed up in one word: inactivity. Everything came to a standstill in the varsity after the VC decided to clash with the bureaucracy.
Many believe that in his run to the VC-ship, the university lost a good academician. The respect he had earlier as the Dean Research and HoD of Biotechnology shall not remain the same, observers say.
“It is seldom that good academicians become good administrators. It is an altogether a different art. And people must not jeopardise their careers by opting for it,” said an observer who has been watching Prof Andrabi’s tenure closely.
In December last year, this reporter made many attempts to interview Prof Andrabi for Kashmir Narrator’s print edition. But he refused to give an interview on one pretext or the other.
Here are the questions that went unanswered:
In an interview published on Kashmir University’s Youtube channel in 2015, you said, “I fall short of necessarily calling it an institution”? A seven-decade-old university is not fit to be called an institution? Can you elaborate?
Now after three years of your tenure, do you think the same? Or do you think that you made the necessary improvements?
In the same interview, you said that we have to move from being merely “knowledge disseminators to knowledge creators”. What progress has the university made in this regard during your tenure?
Producing quality research that has a relevance to the society is an utmost priority of any university. The immediate problem faced by the Kashmiri society is the long pending issue of Kashmir. Has the varsity produced quality research that would analyse the problem and then offer varied viable options for its resolution?
Why the Raj Bhavan wants to remove you even though the amendment in the University Act 1969 clearly says that the tenure is extended for five years? Any personal issues?
If they want to remove you, why do you still cling to the chair?
There were reports that the Raj Bhavan accused you of spreading radicalisation in the Campus. Is there any truth in such reports?
You surprised your inner circle by going to court to fight it out there. Had you planned it earlier? [It is said that you had remarked that the chair is going for a sale and let us give it a try in the court]
In December 2016, the KU authorities issued a circular making biometric attendance compulsory for both teaching and non-teaching faculty. Non-teaching staff complied with the order while the teaching faculty rose up in arms. Is the administration too weak to apply the edict uniformly?
The University started the supplement shift in 2016 in almost all departments save few. This year it winded it up. Was it an ill-planned program or your faculty failed you?
Then there is the credit-based choice system. It seems that the officials had not worked it very well before it was applied here. For example, one department has overwhelming rush while the other has no takers. This has lead to overburdening of some departments. How would you solve this issue?
In 2018, there will be no freshers’ batch to seek admission in universities. Those who joined the college in 2015 are still pursuing their graduation. Who shall pay for this enormous academic loss for the entire society?
The present Controller Examinations is not from the teaching faculty. Is this the reason that examinations of undergrads are being mismanaged?
Apart from the leading newspapers in the Valley, most of the newspapers do publish from time to time critical stories against the university. Don’t you think that the university has obligation to clear the air by rebutting the claims made by the publications here?
What is the job of a PRO then?
It has been a long time since a registrar was appointed through a proper appointment. Why is it so? Why does the university want to continue with this ad-hoc culture?
Many people say that there are double standards at play in KU. For example, they say, the varsity advertised the Dean Academics Affairs post but not the Controller’s examination and registrar post. Why?
In an interview with Greater Kashmir this year (2017) you said that you stood for transparency in the university and said, “Since I joined, all the recruitments were done without any bias. If you pinpoint anyone who was given benefit for being associated with any person, I will leave the office.” What about the appointment of a legal assistant by the name Shabina Afzal Makhdoomi of Batpora (Legal Cell) was appointed in the pay band fo Rs 9300-34800 with gp of rs 4200?
You converted a Placement officer post into a Medical officer post where an influential candidate was appointed on a temporary basis that too without advertising it? How would you respond to this allegation?
It was a good step that you regularised around 300+ casual employees. That was a baggage from your predecessors. But you started the same thing by employing ‘hire and fire’ employees at KU. Why have you started the cycle again?
Then among the helpers one helper after regularisation was appointed in a higher pay grade as a legal assistant. Three JPAs have gone to the court citing the same analogy. Why this cherry-pick?
Till recently, there was no seniority list of professors prepared by the university officials. That leaves a big question mark on the previous VCs. How did they manage promotions?
You made PRO university, Faheem Aslam, PRO VC by by-passing many seniors. Many believe that this was done to stifle any bad coverage by Greater Kashmir. Any truth in this assertion?
I spoke to many former VCs about as to how to gauge the performance of a university. One of the parameters they said will help to gauge the progress of a university is student appraisal. This is badly missing in KU as the students have no right to form a union here. Why didn’t you allow a students’ union at KU as many were expecting that you may give green signal to it?
Many believe that VC appointment is a political appointment rather than an academic. What do you say?
A lady had come to you in 2016 with a request to employ her here which was denied by you. When she asked why, you had replied her, through an SMS, “Wohi mera kanoon hay chahay wo unpad ho ya post graduate”. How far is the allegation true?
Does it suit a VC of this great institution to use such language?
You had designed a consortium for research at KU. Any progress in that regard?
Earlier, you used to not stand up when Indian national anthem was being played. That angered the Raj Bhavan and now it is said that you not only stand up but you are the last man to sit down. Has the bureaucracy melted you?
[Questions end here]
The father of the lady who approached this reporter with the picture of the alleged Prof Andrabi’s text saying that he has made his habit to pray against him after every prayer.
Abdul Hamid, a driver by profession, says that the “rude behaviour” of Prof Andrabi has hurt him when he had asked him to look into the matter of his daughter’s contractual job.
“I haven’t seen any high official with such rudeness. Responsibility humbles a person but in his (Prof Andrabi) case, it is the opposite. I always pray may Allah bring his downfall soon,” Hamid says.
Hamid asked an intriguing question: Why it happens that all the rules and regulations are invoked for a non-relative of a KU official and all the rules and regulations are brushed aside when appointing a KU official’s relative?
However, despite being refused an interview, Narrator went ahead with the cover story on KU in January. One of the top officials of KU had this observation to make after the story was published:
“Please learn to conduct proper research otherwise your writings will serve no purpose rather harm the purpose. Your story about Kashmir university last time was without any content and substance but with a very strong conclusion.”
The university official didn’t point out any lacuna in the report which needs to be researched.
This reporter, however, did research and find out the KU dirty work getting even dirtier.
When the daughter of VC Central University Kashmir, Iqra Mehraj, was appointed illegally by Prof Andrabi, the 78th University council meeting expressed the following:
“Chancellor expressed concern on the serious violation of the codal requirements and directed that this case along with Enquiry report of the state government Higher education department be urgently referred to Chief Vigilance Commissioner, State Vigilance Commission, for time-bound detailed enquiry in the entire matter.”
The minutes of the meeting were accessed through RTI.
A source in the varsity said that more details of “corruption during Andrabi’s tenure” is coming up in full public glare once the new VC will take over. The university’s Registrar has put the post to advertisement recently.