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‘Names poser’ in BEd probe

July 3: A group of students who had been admitted to a Nadia BEd college beyond the sanctioned strength said the Jadavpur University interim vice-chancellor probing the cash-for-seats scam asked them today why they had named union leaders, teachers and officials in their complaints.

The students said Abhijit Chakrabarti, the JU interim vice-chancellor, also asked them why they were speaking to the media even after being allowed to appear for the exams.

Chakrabarti contested the claims that he had asked the students about the contents of their complaint letters to Kalyani University vice-chancellor Rattan Lal Hangloo.

Chakrabarti today visited Kalyani University and spoke to 19 students of Bhaktabala BEd College who had been admitted beyond the sanctioned strength. Amar Biswas, the co-owner of the college, was also present at the meeting. Tanmay Acharya, the general secretary of the varsity union led by the Trinamul Chhatra Parishad, was absent. Chakrabarti spoke to him over phone.

Biswas and Acharya had been accused by the students of taking between Rs 1.25 lakh and Rs 1.85 lakh to facilitate admissions beyond the sanctioned strength.

One of the students who attended the meeting said: “Chakrabarti asked us why we had named Acharya and Kalyani University teachers and officials in our complaint letters to the VC (Hangloo) as it was the college that finally received the money.”

Another student said the Jadavpur University interim VC asked them “what was the point of speaking to the media” even after being allowed to write the exams.

Thirty-two of the 39 students who were admitted beyond the sanctioned strength had named Acharya, college governing body secretary Biswas, varsity officials and teachers in the complaints, accusing them of taking money from them. A section of the students had said callers identifying themselves as Trinamul workers had threatened them against meeting Chakrabarti on June 27.

Several Kalyani University officials today questioned Chakrabarti’s alleged move to ask the students why they had named union leaders and university teachers in the letters.

“The interim VC has apparently said the ultimate beneficiary was the college. Why should names not be taken? It is essential to probe the cash-for-seats scam,” a varsity teacher said.

Chakrabarti said after today’s meeting: “Today, I came to hear the versions of the complainants. I did not ask them (students) why they had named certain people. The students told me when, where and to whom they had given money.”

Asked if he had suggested that the students should not speak to the media, Chakrabarti said: “I said this as an inquiry is going on.”

He said he had heard that Acharya had been called to the meeting by the university. “But he denied it. I took his version over phone,” Chakrabarti said.

According to university officials, Acharya had been intimated.

Acharya told The Telegraph that he had not taken money to facilitate unauthorised admissions. Biswas also denied having taken money from students. Biswas had earlier accused Acharya of threatening him to facilitate the admissions.

Chakrabarti said he would take a call on Monday on whether to speak to the students who did not turn up today. “If need be, I can speak to them over phone.”

He added that he would speak to Hangloo — now in the US on a personal tour — before filing his report. Hangloo is expected to return on Saturday.