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Mamata rushes to colleges after TMC student leaders accused of extorting money for admission

The ruling party has been embarrassed by a number of allegations that student union leaders have been asking for exorbitant amounts for admission to different undergrad course in colleges across science, arts and commerce streams.

india Updated: Jul 02, 2018 17:20 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Mamata Banerjee,Trinamool Congress,TMC student leaders extorting money
Chief minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee speaks to media in New Delhi.(Burhaan Kinu/HT File Photo)

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday said anyone found extorting money from those seeking admission in state colleges will be punished amid complaints that students’ union leaders, mostly from her Trinamool Congress, are demanding huge sums to ensure seats.

Banerjee called education minister Partha Chatterjee for an emergency meeting at her residence and instructed him to rein in the incidents of extortion. The chief minister also paid an unannounced visit to Asutosh College near her house in a desperate bid to contain the complaints.

“Money should not be a criterion for admission to colleges. If anybody asks for money, the government will take steps,” Banerjee, who was a student leader of the college in the seventies said.

“We were also involved in student politics, but we helped the students to seek admission. Many students from poor families come for admission. How can they pay money?” the chief minister asked as she interacted with students and guardians.

She has also instructed her party ministers and MLAs to make unannounced visits to the colleges in their areas to ensure students are not preyed upon.

Education minister Chatterjee also rushed to Seth Anandaram Jaipuria College, Surendranath College and Maharaja Manindra Chandra College and interacted with students.

“Culprits, if any, will be arrested. Give us specific complaints. There are some instances of playing to the gallery too,” said Chatterjee.

Leaders from the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party warned the government of a protest against the complaints.

“The ruling party has turned the colleges into centres of extortion and the money travels upwards. Our youth wing will soon take to the streets against extortion in colleges,” Raju Banerjee, one of the general secretaries of the BJP’s Bengal unit, said.

“We have written to the state government urging it to start fully online admission procedure,” said Sujan Chakraborty, leader of the Left parties in the state assembly.

The ruling party has been embarrassed by a number of allegations that student union leaders have been asking for exorbitant amounts for admission to different undergrad course in colleges across science, arts and commerce streams. The amount allegedly demanded range from a few thousand of rupees to something close to a lakh.

Banerjee had earlier instructed the Kolkata Police commissioner to take action against the culprits. The chief minister said on June 21 in a meeting of more than 10,000 party leaders she won’t put up with incidents of extortion in colleges.

The anti-rowdy cell of Kolkata Police arrested Titan Saha, a former leader of Kolkata’s Jaipuria College students’ union, on charges of extortion on Sunday. Four students of Maharaja Srischandra College and Prafulla Chandra College were also arrested last month.

Police arrested five students and an employee of St Paul’s College of Kolkata for allegedly stripping a student, who asked a students’ union leader for an expenditure statement of the cash they had collected from others.

Officers also raided the home of a group D staff of the city’s Surendranath College and seized admission forms and mark sheets of students.

Police have issued messages on social media assuring students of action if someone tried to extort money for admission. According to the statement that included email ids and WhatsApp numbers, the identity of the complainant would be kept secret.

They are looking for about 20 student leaders based on the complaints they have received.

Students are admitted through online admissions but they have to come to the colleges for the verification of their credentials and are allegedly harassed by the union leaders for money at the time.

Last year, Banerjee’s government was faced with similar complaints that a section of the ruling party’s students’ wing, Trinamool Chhatra Parishad (TMCP), running admission help desks in colleges was demanding money in lieu of seats, prompting her to ban such desks.

First Published: Jul 02, 2018 17:05 IST