The Mansa police on Saturday busted a fake degree racket allegedly being run by Global Open University, Nagaland, through its counselling centres and franchises.
The police arrested the university’s pro-chancellor Priya Ranjan Trivedi, who is also listed as the chairman of the university’s governing and academic council in a UGC report of 2010. Three other alleged accomplices of Trivedi have also been arrested.
Mansa SSP Bhupinder Singh Khatra, at a press conference here on Saturday, said the university had, through its 200 centres spread across the country, issued more than 30,000 fake degrees of various graduate and postgraduate courses for prices ranging between Rs9,000 and Rs35,000 each.
Global Open University is a private university established in 2007 under the Nagaland state act and is recognised by the UGC. Spread over 80 acres in Dimapur, the university, however, is not authorised to run distance education or off-campus centres.
“The university was allowed by the UGC to run distance education centres only for one year in 2008-9, but after that the opening of such centres was banned. The university, however, continued to open its centres, enrol students and give them degrees. These degrees have no validity.
The students who were enrolled were issued roll numbers of 2008-9 in order to hoodwink the UGC,” the SSP said. Khatra said that in Punjab alone the university had around 16 centres and had since 20089 issued more than 5,000 fake degrees. “Many of those who procured them have got jobs based on the fake degrees,” Khatra said.
Sources said the Mansa police had shortlisted four of its own employees who had a degree from this university and managed
to get a job in the police department.
The fake degree scam came to light when Mansa resident Tarlochan Singh who had a degree from this university applied for a Hindustan Petroleum (HP) gas agency. He deposited the fee for the agency and started setting it up. However, when HP got his degree verified it was found not valid and his gas agency was cancelled. The Mansa police started investigations into the case.
However, the police have also arrested the complainant for buying the fake degree.
The SSP said Trivedi used to operate from Delhi. “The university is approved by the UGC to offer only two courses -- fashion designing and hotel management.
But this gang established various nodal centres in Punjab and their operations were monitored from Paryawaran Complex in New Delhi. The centres were advertised and students who enquired about the courses would be told that they did not have to go to Nagaland to study but could do so wherever they were. The students also joined the system as they simply bought the degrees they wanted. The gang used to charge 9,000 for a BA and
30,000 for M Phil degrees, said Khatra.
UGC CONFIRMS VARSITY’S OPERATIONS NOT AUTHORISED
To confirm that the entire operations being run by the university were fake, the Punjab Police contacted the UGC that wrote back to the Mansa police on April 1, saying the university had no authority to run counselling or outreach centres and enrol students. “The letter clearly states that the university cannot open and run any off-campus study centres outside Nagaland.
During the investigation, it was found that these people were already fighting a case in the Punjab and Haryana high court pertaining to the same issue. The Patiala police, too, had tried to investigate the racket earlier,” said Khatra.
POLICE TO BROAD-BASE INVESTIGATION
“Other than this university, there are numerous other study centres and counselling centres being run in Mansa and elsewhere in the state which claim to be associated with some university or the other.
They are also offering similar degrees.
I have asked my teams to get me the list of these centres. We will verify all these and see how many of them are genuine,” said the SSP.