Are the seats reserved for non-resident Indians (NRIs) in the undergraduate medical course in Punjab on sale?
In spite of instructions to the contrary from the Punjab government and Baba Farid University of Health Sciences (BFUHS), Faridkot, some colleges in the state have invited applications publicly for the leftover seats in the NRI quota, and through touts, approached parents and candidates to make deals.
A tout approached by HT asked for Rs 60 lakh for a seat, 60 times the annual fee. "Some parents have agreed to pay," said a complainant who approached the vice-chancellor.
After the latest round of counselling on August 7, 63 NRI seats in the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) programme, and 175 in the Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) course remain up for grabs.
More than 1,500 students who cleared the Punjab Medical Entrance Test (PMET) will have eyes of these in the next round of counselling.
A network of touts in private colleges is at work to trap the students who are desperate to get into any medical course. The BFUHS rules require leftover NRI seats to be converted into general category places and filled through centralised counselling.
Applications for the next round of counselling will be accepted till August 27. However, some private medical Institutes attached with the BFUHS for this academic session want the applications invited though newspapers.
Tout wants R60 lakhfor R1.5-lakh seat
A medical college in Bathinda and a dental institute in Ferozepur of late issued advertisements to invite applications for the leftover NRI seats.
Some agents also advertised these seats. When HT rang up one of these agents on the number given in the ad, he demanded Rs 60 lakh for a seat. The BFUHS-prescribed annual fee is between Rs 1.50 lakh and Rs 4 lakh. The agent made it clear that he will accept the money only in black.
Aspirants, parents fall into trap
The aspirants and their parents are in panic since the advertisements have appeared in newspapers, and not hesitated to buy forms from private colleges and touts.
A group of parents has approached the BFUHS vice-chancellor and state's medical education secretary. "Some colleges are in a nexus with touts to cash on the desperation of candidates and their parents," said a complainant.
"Some parents have taken the bait and paid a much higher fee than prescribed."