Thane pharmacy college under scanner

Students allege assault by authorities of affiliated varsity in Rajasthan

Students of a pharmacy college in Thane have alleged that the authorities of a Rajasthan-based university intimidated and assaulted them in May. The institute, NETT Paramedical College, is already in troubled waters with its principal, Purushottam Tahilramani, arrested by the Thane Crime Branch in January in a fake certificate case.

The students said in May they sought answers from Mr. Tahilramani — who is out on bail — when they did not receive their second-year mark sheets for close to a year. Dr. Tahilramani allegedly told them they would have to approach the Om Parkash Jogender Singh (OPJS) University in Rajasthan, as the college was affiliated to it.

“We were told that we will have to appear for an exam, after which our result will be declared in a month’s time. Mr. Tahilramani, along with a local politician, took three batches of students to Rajasthan. The authorities there told us our admissions had not been done and that we would have to fill fresh admission forms. When I showed one of my exam mark sheets, one of the top officials of the university told me it was fake,” said Rinku Yadav, a student who has appeared for her final semester of diploma in pharmacy.

Shweta Jaiswal, another student, said, “When we refused to fill the forms, we were chased and assaulted, and one of us had to receive eight stitches on returning to Mumbai.”

Upon their return to the city, Anil Prajapati, who was hurt in the incident, registered a complaint at Kapurbawdi police station.

Siddharth Ingle, founder-president, Maharashtra Law Students Association, said when the student organisation leaders met Mr. Tahilramani on May 20, he simply showed them a memorandum of understanding between NETT Paramedical College and OPJS University.

“The documents that we have accessed reveal that the Pharmacy Council of India had given approval to OPJS University for 2015-16 for 60 seats that was extended to 2017-18. However, NETT, which has over 200 students, had no approval. Mr. Tahilramani only told us that he gave ₹4 crore to the trustee of the university and had no other permit document to show. He had at the time said he compensated the students, which has still not been done,” Mr. Ingle said.

The Maharashtra State Pharmacy Council told The Hindu that following Mr. Tahilramani’s arrest in January, the names of students from two universities, including OPJS, had turned up and therefore, applications from colleges affiliated to those universities were not considered while those taken have been put on hold.

“We have even put this in the public domain after our meeting in February this year. Education regulation work such as syllabus, permits of the institutions and inspection come under the purview of PCI, New Delhi. The State council has no role to play,” said Saili Masal, registrar of the council. With careers of over 200 students at stake, student organisations have demanded the immediate arrest of Mr. Tahilramani and OPJS officials.

Despite repeated attempts, Mr. Tahilramani could not be reached for comment.

Senior police inspector Anil Deshmukh, Kapurbawdi police station, confirmed that an FIR has been registered. “We transferred the FIR to the Rajasthan police, as the incident occurred in their jurisdiction. Since an investigation is already under way in another case against Mr. Tahilramani, we asked the students to approach the Crime Branch and become witnesses in the case,” he said.

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