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University forms cash-for-seats probe panel

- Admissions took place when my predecessor was in charge, onus to settle the matter on me: Partha

Calcutta/Kalyani, June 23: Kalyani University today set up a four-member committee headed by the proctor and an English professor to probe the cash-for-seats allegations in a college affiliated to it.

The committee will start functioning from tomorrow, the varsity’s legal officer Alok Ghosh said. Ghosh is the convenor of the panel, which will also have in it English professor Sujata Chowdhury.

In complaints lodged with vice-chancellor Rattan Lal Hangloo, 32 of the 39 students of Bhaktabala BEd College in Nadia’s Chapra had alleged that they had paid lakhs of rupees for admissions to unauthorised seats in 2013-14.

The complaints named Tanmay Acharya, the general secretary of the varsity union led by Trinamul Chhatra Parishad; Amar Biswas, owner and secretary of the college; two varsity teachers and a section of the varsity’s staff and former students.

Sources in the varsity said vice-chancellor Hangloo held a meeting with senior officials this evening to discuss the allegations. The committee was formed after that, the sources added.

The vice-chancellor said tonight that he had sent a report to the higher education department earlier in the day as had been sought by minister Partha Chatterjee. “A solution will be worked out soon,” Hangloo said.

Chatterjee denied having received any report from the varsity till late in the evening. “How will I act when reports concerning the students’ complaints are yet to reach me?” the education minister told The Telegraph this evening.

Chatterjee said he had ordered a probe into the allegations after coming to know about them through newspaper reports.

“In fact, I have already spoken to vice-chancellor Rattan Lal Hangloo and higher education secretary Vivek Kumar as part of our investigation to get an idea about the situation in the BEd college,” Chatterjee said, adding that he would get “to the bottom of the matter” by probing all angles.

Chatterjee said he had summoned TMCP state president Sankudeb Panda and other student union leaders of the varsity tomorrow to “ascertain the veracity of the complaints”.

Asked about Acharya, the general secretary of the varsity union who has been named by several students for taking money from them, Chatterjee said: “I want to make it very clear that if the allegations against him (Acharya) are proved, he will not be spared. We are committed to keep education corruption-free”.

The minister, however, argued that those who had paid the money for admissions and are now making the complaints “are equally guilty”. “Those who give money and those who take it are equally guilty. All these will be probed,” he added.

Chatterjee, also the Trinamul secretary-general, wondered why the complaints surfaced almost nine months after the 39 students got admission into the BEd college.

“The admissions took place nine months ago when my predecessor (Bratya Basu) was the minister in charge for education. But now, the onus is on me to settle the matter,” he said.

Chatterjee also appeared peeved at vice-chancellor Hangloo for cancelling the affiliation of the private college without informing the higher education department. “You cannot de-affiliate a college all of a sudden,” he said, refusing to elaborate.

Asked about this, Hangloo said: “We took the decision following all procedures.”

At Kalyani University today, 25 students of Bhaktabala BEd College who claimed to have paid huge amount of money for admissions to unauthorised seats squatted in front of Hangloo’s chamber demanding that they be allowed to appear for the exams scheduled to start on July 7.

The vice-chancellor, however, refused to meet them, instructing the protesters to meet legal officer Alok Ghosh.

Ghosh met the students for over an hour from 10.15am and asked them to submit an application requesting the varsity to allow them to appear for the exams. The students did so and were asked by the legal officer to wait for four weeks for a response, sources said.

“I have received their application where they have requested that they be allowed to sit for the exams. This is a special case for which the state government as well as the National Council for Teacher Education would have to be consulted. This would take time. So I asked them to wait for four weeks,” Ghosh said.

The legal officer’s comments hinted that the students’ chances of appearing for the exams in July were in doubt.

One of the students who squatted in front of the vice-chancellor’s chamber and later met Ghosh said: “We understand now that we will not be able to sit for the exams from July 7. We have no other option but to file a police complaint or move the high court.”

Hangloo had earlier made it clear that the BEd college had only 100 sanctioned seats and only those students would be allowed to sit for the exams.

However, a source close to the vice-chancellor said: “Our purpose was to make public the allegations by the students through the media. We have done that. The state government has assured us a probe. Now making any further statement on the issue would look like we are going against the state government.”

The university today issued a statement in which it summed up the events of the complaints and urged that the media “should not unnecessarily blow the issue out of proportion”.

“A case related to irregularities in the admission process of Bhaktabala BEd College has been referred to the Kalyani University. Allegations have been submitted in writing by a group of students who allegedly paid huge sums of money to certain persons associated both with the college concerned and may be the university. The university has submitted documents to the state government for appropriate action. Since the university is preoccupied with its academic work, I earnestly desire that the press should not unnecessarily blow the issue out of proportion but abide by the facts stated above,” the statement said.

The statement was signed by Niladri Biswas, the public relations officer of the varsity.

About 30 students who took admission to the college for the 2014-15 session earlier this month today went to Hangloo’s chamber to meet him, but he declined them. They finally met Ghosh.