Buddhist Institute caught in unholy row

by Tarannum Manjul, Express India, March 31, 2006

Culture dept appoints new director, so old OSD-cum-officiating director locks up office, takes keys and goes on leave

Lucknow, India -- Anuradha Goyal, joint director in the department of culture, was supposed to take over as director of the Acharya Narendra Dev International Buddhist Research Institute on March 13 this year.

But she is yet to take charge, because Dr Yogendra Singh, the institute’s OSD-cum-officiating director, has reportedly locked the doors, taken the keys and gone on leave.

Singh has also filed a writ petition in the Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court stating that he has been removed from the post of director because he did not please the chairman.

But the chairman, Mithilesh Kumar, maintained that ‘‘Singh had been removed since he failed to present records of the institute’s expenditure. Besides, he has only been removed from his officiating role, not his regular appointment as the OSD.’’

Singh was posted to the institute as officer-on-special-duty on August 1, 2000. He was earlier a Reader in the Philosophy department at the Yuvraj Dutt Degree College at Lakhimpur.

On October 28, 2000, as per a new order, Singh was made officiating director of the institute, which is an autonomous body under the State’s department of culture.

But in March this year, the department decided to make Goyal the director. According to sources, the decision came after it was found that Singh had been absent from office and was not giving accounts of how the Rs 5-lakh budget was being spent.

Singh then filed a writ petition against the department, the chairman and Goyal. And, according to department sources, Singh locked the office of the institute, situated at the Sangeet Natak Akademi in Gomti Nagar, took the keys, and has been on leave since March 13.

When contacted, Singh declined to comment. ‘‘I don’t wish to discuss this issue,’’ he said. Goyal, on her part, accepted that she had received a copy of the Court order, but refused to comment further.

Meanwhile, the preparations for the celebrations to mark the 2550th year of Gautam Buddha’s enlightenment, expected to kick off from April, have been hit.