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Accused: TMC cub; probed by: TMC duo

Alok Ghosh, who has been “released” as Kalyani University legal officer

July 14: Kalyani University has inducted two members of a Trinamul-backed teachers’ association into the committee probing the cash-for-seats scam in a BEd college affiliated to it.

The varsity has also “released” as legal officer Alok Ghosh, who is the convenor of the probe panel, fuelling speculation that it could be the first step towards easing him out of the committee.

Varsity insiders said the induction of professors Subhash Chandra Sarkar and Debasish Das — both members of the Trinamul-affiliated West Bengal College and University Professors’ Association (WBCUPA) — into the probe panel followed alleged “pressure tactics” from the ruling party.

It could not be immediately ascertained what “pressure tactics” the ruling party allegedly resorted to.

Asked about Ghosh’s “release” as legal officer, Kalyani University vice-chancellor Rattan Lal Hangloo said: “Ghosh’s responsibility as legal officer was ad-hoc. After he completed his task, he has been allowed to get back to his department. This is a routine procedure.”

The vice-chancellor ruled out any “pressure” to “release” the legal officer.

The order, signed by acting registrar Bimalendu Biswas yesterday, stated that the varsity was “pleased to release” Ghosh as legal officer from August 1. The order, however, adds that Ghosh would “hold the existing membership in the committees of the University”.

A section of the varsity officials said Ghosh was removed because he is the general secretary of the All Bengal University Teachers’ Association, the teachers’ wing of the SUCI.

Although the varsity has three associations of teachers, two of them backed by the Left, the Trinamul-affiliated body holds sway.

Vice-chancellor Hangloo had formed a four-member inquiry committee after 32 of the 39 students admitted beyond the sanctioned strength at Bhaktabala College in Nadia wrote to him alleging that they had paid between Rs 1.25 lakh and Rs 1.85 lakh for securing the seats.

Bhaktabala College

The students had named Tanmay Acharya, the general secretary of the varsity union led by the Trinamul Chhatra Parishad, and Amar Biswas, co-owner of the college, among others.

Both Acharya and Biswas have denied their involvement in the scam.

With the inclusion of the two professors today, the number of members in the probe committee stands at six. All the members are teachers.

The government has assigned Jadavpur University interim vice-chancellor Abhijit Chakrabarti to probe the cash-for-seats scam. He is yet to submit his report.

Several varsity officials wondered if the inclusion of the two professors with Trinamul leanings would affect the probe.

“We fail to understand why two professors known to be close to the Trinamul Congress were inducted into the probe team. For the sake of a free and fair probe, they should not have been included into the committee,” a university official said, declining to be identified.

Professors Sarkar and Das argued that their political leanings had nothing to do with their inclusion in the probe committee and would in no way affect the investigation.

“I am a member of WBCUPA. But that does not mean I am going to let my political identity come in the way of the probe. I am committed to a fair and impartial probe,” said professor Sarkar, who teaches commerce at the university.

Echoing Sarkar, Das said: “I assure you that my political loyalty will not come in the way of a fair probe.”

Asked if his removal as the legal officer would affect his role as convener of the cash-for-seats inquiry panel, Ghosh said: “So far, there has been no direct or specific indication. I have doubts on this. I will try to complete the investigation this month and submit my report to the VC by July 31.”