ITANAGAR, 13 Sep: The suspension of Dera Natung Government College’s (DNGC) Chemistry HoD, Associate Professor Narendra Pramanik, by the education commissioner has triggered a row, with a sizeable number of DNGC alumni staging a protest rally at the college on Monday, demanding immediate revocation of the suspension order.
Demanding an explanation from the APSSB secretary and the education commissioner, the alumni alleged that Prof Pramanik “has been made a scapegoat, whereas the inquiry committee constituted by the ICR DC gave a clean chit to the associate professor.”
The education commissioner issued the suspension order against Prof Pramanik on 9 September over alleged gross negligence of duty during the Arunachal Pradesh Staff Selection Board (APSSB) examination for draughtsman and surveyor held from 17 to 18 July, during which a female candidate was caught red-handed using a mobile phone inside Room No 25 during examination hour.
The education commissioner said that disciplinary action has been taken against Prof Pramanik “because he recommended private contract teachers for invigilators to district superintendent (DC).”
Clarifying the suspension order, APSSB Secretary Santosh Kumar Rai said that “the board operates within certain standard operating procedures (SOP). The board has to take appropriate action against whoever deviates from the SOP, so that exams are conducted on merit basis.”
Rai said that the APSSB team “is fully committed to conduct fair examinations. We do not compromise with deviation from the SOP.”
He also claimed that the centre superintendent, Prof Pramanik, had appointed private teachers as invigilators “without permission and notice of district superintendent (ICR DC), which is against our SOP.”
He said the SOP states that if the examination is being conducted at any government institution, the invigilators must invariably be from that government institution, “or they should have written to the DC, informing about the inadequate number invigilators.”
“In this case, such procedure was not followed. Without notice of the DC and the board, the centre superintendent appointed private teachers as invigilators, violating the SOP. Therefore the education department recommended the action,” Rai said.
On being asked by this daily, Education Commissioner Niharika Rai said that the row over the suspension of Prof Pramanik “was brought to the department’s knowledge and the APSSB was asked to resolve the issue.”
On being contacted, Prof Pramanik clarified that, on the basis of the recommendation of the DNGC principal, the district superintendent (ICR DC) had appointed the invigilators’ names on 6 July, 2021.”
He added that the recommendation to use the services of private and contractual teachers was made “due to the unavailability of the required number of invigilators in the college, as summer vacation started on 5 July, and because of the Covid-19 situation.”
“I am being blamed for no reason. I have no role in appointing invigilators. They were appointed by the ICR DC. So why am I being blamed here?” he said.
“I had strictly followed the rules and procedures in conducting the examination, and I conveyed this to all the invigilators. That’s why the candidate who indulged in unfair means could be apprehended in the examination hall,” Prof Pramanik added.
He went on to say: “If there was any negligence or lapse in the duty leading to the use of mobile phone in the examination hall, it is primarily due to the lapse from the frisking team appointed by the district administration. Further, it is still a mystery as to how the internet service was available while a jammer was installed under the supervision of the APSSB undersecretary. I had no role in conducting frisking and installing the mobile jammers.”
“I had sincerely performed my duty and conducted the examination successfully in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, risking my own life. I even had to cancel my vacation for the examination. I returned to Itanagar, leaving behind my ailing mother, for this examination. But it seems my sincerity and dedication have been rewarded with a suspension,” he rued.
Meanwhile, the All Nyishi Students’ Union (ANSU) also joined the DNGC alumni in demanding revocation of the suspension order.
ANSU GS Gora Rikam Bhai informed that the ANSU had appealed to the APSSB secretary to reconsider its decision, and also discussed the matter with the education minister.
“There was no such evidence where Prof Pramanik is to be blamed, and the inquiry committee report also gave him a clean chit,” said Rikam.