Tech student killed in recruitment rivalry

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By G.C. SHEKHAR
  • Published 6.07.10
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Chennai, July 5: Rivalry among private institutes to poach each other’s prospective freshers, with college seniors and alumni allegedly paid to act as touts and even kidnappers, has led to a student being beaten to death in Chennai.

Jharkhand boy Nirbhay Kumar Singh, a third-year BTech student and “recruiter” for MGR (Deemed) University, was attacked with clubs by a rival gang of students from Satyabhama (Deemed) University last night, police said. He died of his head injuries today.

Officers said MGR and Satyabhama were among the institutes that paid their current and former students to recruit freshers, who would shell out hefty capitation fees for management quota seats. The rivalry among these groups of recruiters, they said, sometimes led to gang fights over the kidnapping of each other’s freshers.

Nirbhay, 21, had arranged to admit Harshik Singh, a fellow student from Jharkhand, to his university but the rival gang had spirited him away and got him enrolled in Satyabhama, the police said. Nirbhay, son of a railway inspector in Ranchi, had come on a motorbike to the city’s Nilankarai area, looking for Harshik, when he was attacked.

Since there are about 100 private engineering colleges within 70km of Chennai, many of which have been struggling to fill their seats, the competition for freshers is fierce.

The recruitment racket, which mainly involves north Indian students, has become so lucrative that many former students, most of whom have not cleared their college arrears, are now full-time recruiters. They have fanned out to their hometowns and nearby villages scouting for prospective students for Chennai’s engineering colleges.

“We get up to Rs 50,000 per student depending on the capitation fee he pays,” said an ex-student of Satyabhama who lives near his old institute.

Senior students in their third or fourth year are exempted from tuition or hostel fees, instead of being paid money, if they bring in new students, police sources said.

An officer at Nilankarai police station said that freshers “brought” for admission to a particular institute were often kidnapped by gangs from a different college and forcibly enrolled with the latter institute.

“They have safe houses where such abducted students are kept till their admission process is over,” the officer said.

About 10,000 students from Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Uttaranchal study in three private universities — SRM, Satyabhama and MGR. Another 3,000-odd students from these states are enrolled in 30 private engineering colleges located around Chennai, police sources said.

In February, Vikas Singh, a fourth-year student of Satyabhama, was kidnapped by the rival gang of Sanjeev Singh and confined to a room in Puducherry. Vikas and Sanjeev, both from Bihar, had clashed over recruiting students from their home state.

Later, while Vikas was being brought to Chennai, the car overturned on the highway. Vikas used the mobile of one of his injured captors to call his father, then joint commissioner in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh. The father then called the Tamil Nadu police chief, which led to Vikas’s rescue and the racket coming to light.

The managements of the private universities and colleges claim they have nothing to do with the racket.

“Some of the students and their parents, many of them in top government positions in their respective states, spread the word around that any admission from their states can happen only through these student recruiters.

And if the college charges a capitation fee of Rs 4 lakh, these students mark it up as Rs 4.5 lakh and walk away with the extra Rs 50,000,” a placement officer of a private college said.