Topper cradle home truths

At centre of raging controversy, a college like no other

By Ramashankar
  • Published 3.06.16
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Ruby Rai, flanked by her parents, after her results were declared and (below) the college that produced the science and arts state toppers this year whose ineptitude was shown up in post-result television interviews. Pictures by Deepak Kumar and The Telegraph

Hajipur (Vaishali), June 2: The family members of Ruby Rai, who topped in the arts stream of the Plus Two examination conducted by the Bihar School Examination Board (BSEB) this year, were stunned to know that she had achieved the distinction.

The family got the news from journalists who visited the house in Sharma Amar village, around 10km from Bhagwanpur, the block headquarter town in Vaishali district 40km north of Patna, on May 27.

"We had not expected that she would top the examination," Ruby's grandfather Munshi Prasad Rai told The Telegraph on Thursday.

Octogenarian Munshi, a retired government schoolteacher, said his granddaughter was a mediocre student who had passed her matriculation examination from Koari High School, around 7km east of the village, in second division. Even Ruby's brother Pankaj Kumar, an engineering student, was not sure about his sister's grand success.

Ruby appeared for the Plus Two examination from Vishun Roy College, whose director-cum principal is Amit Kumar alias Bachcha Rai - who is considered close to RJD boss Lalu Prasad. Local residents said Bachcha had lobbied for an RJD ticket from the Paroo Assembly constituency in Muzaffarpur district last year but could not get it because of the fewer number of seats allotted to the party due the Grand Alliance understanding.

Vishun Roy College, named after Bachcha Rai's grandfather, an influential person of the area, has a stunning success rate. This year, a number of top 10 students are from the college. The state topper in the science stream, Saurabh Shrestha, whose achievement is also under the scanner after he and Ruby were shown up to lack basic knowledge of their streams during television interviews, is from the same college and district.

Saurabh's father, Ajay Singh, is a big railway contractor and influential person in the region.

Last year, Bachcha's daughter Sonali had topped the state in the science stream. A couple of years ago, seven out of the 10 state toppers were from the college.

Local residents said parents of students from far-off districts such as Patna, Samastipur, Muzaffarpur and Saran approach Bachcha to get their wards admitted to the college, thanks to its stellar record.

A local resident, who did not want to be named, said: "Forget common people; even politicians, bureaucrats and technocrats make a beeline to the director's native place to get their children admitted in the college. Success is guaranteed here."

Bachcha's family are diehard supporters of the RJD. His father, Rajdeo Rai, had unsuccessfully contested a Legislative Council poll as an RJD candidate. The family runs a number of academic institutions, including four Intermediate colleges and a BEd college.

Bachcha was seen canvassing for votes in favour of Lalu's elder son Tej Pratap from Mahua in Vaishali district during the 2015 Assembly elections. Sources close to Bachcha said he had camped in Mahua for a month during the electioneering.

"Nobody dares oppose the misdeeds of Bachcha Rai due to his connections in the corridors of power," said Prashant Kumar, who owns an eatery on the Hajipur-Muzaffarpur road. "Last year also, the result of the Plus Two exam was held up after complaints of irregularities in the examination. But the matter was settled and the results were finally published."

Vishun Roy College was set up in 1997-98. The institute became famous in a short span of time.

"People started vying for admission in the college because of its unexpected results," said a resident of Bhagwanpur, who requested anonymity.

Nitesh Kumar (24), who runs a coaching institute next to the college, had doubts over the institute's record.

Ruby’s grandfather at their Vaishali home on Thursday. Picture by Deepak Kumar

"I have been burning the midnight oil and tutoring students with utmost attention ; none of them have met with such grand success," he said.

Efforts to contact Bachcha for his comments proved futile. An SUV with an RJD sticker was parked outside the college gate, which suggested that he was inside. But he has been avoiding the media after the raging controversy over the merit of Ruby, whose father Awadesh Prasad Rai is a retired soldier, and Saurabh.

A security guard Rakesh Singh, who was deputed at the college, said: "I will not allow you to go inside as there is standing order of the director of the institute not to send anyone without his permission. I am here to obey his orders and nothing else."

Ruby's grandfather said she and her father were not present in the house.

"They have gone to Jamshedpur to attend a wedding ceremony," Munshi Rai said.

A source in the district administration said the examination centre was equipped with CCTV camera and Vaishali district magistrate Archana Patil had visited the centre to oversee the preparations to ensure fair examination. .

The Vishun Roy College authorities had earlier claimed that the institute has 38 teachers. But what is surprising is that the college, which seems to lack basic infrastructure, has produced so many state toppers in the past decade.

"The quality of education being imparted at the college has certainly raised eyebrows," said another local resident who also did not want to be identified.

The BSEB has issued notices asking 14 toppers to appear for an interview at its Patna office tomorrow. A source, however, said Ruby's parents have informed the BSEB that she is away from home.

Ruby's neighbour Sindhu Kumari, a student of Class X, hailed the government decision to conduct a probe into the results of the state toppers including Ruby.

"If she deserves the honour, she will come out clean," Sindhu said.