ADMISSION SEASON, BEWARE OF TOUTS
Indrojit Sengupta (name changed) had arrived from Kolkata with the hope that Mumbai would be the launchpad of his career in business management. Little did the youngster realise that he would get his a life lesson from Santosh Dubey and Deepak Dua, BTech and MBA graduates, respectively, which would haunt him for years.
Dubey and Dua convinced Sengupta, who was hoping to get into a Juhu-based college, that they were on backslapping terms with the top brass of the college management and offered to get him a seat there under the management quota. The greenhorn rose to the bait — he shelled out Rs12 lakh as the duo’s commission and the course fee. To assure him that he had made the right choice by choosing to get his work done through them, Dubey and Dua even took Sengupta to the college and showed him around. But a little later into the ‘orientation’, the two graduates ran out of another gate after switching off their cellphones. Their luck, though, ran out soon. They were recently arrested by the Juhu police, who are now investigating if a staff member of the college was hand in glove with the two.
Come admission time, many desperate college aspirants fall prey to such touts’ scheming minds. Not only do they set themselves up for disappointment, but they are also cheated of large amounts of money, sometimes running into crores of rupees. It’s not just gullible students alone; many parents, too, resort to go through such fake agents to get their children admission to a reputed institution.
Win the target’s trust is the credo that most such touts live by. And they do all it takes to lay the trap — put on their best smile, patiently listen as the target pours out his/her grievances, declare that they are on best terms with the highest levels in the college management and then offer help for a ‘nominal’ fee — which most claim is just donation to the institution. The targets are mostly aspirants to engineering institutions, B-schools and medical colleges who failed to score well in board examinations or entrance tests.
A senior police official says parents who have been duped often shy away from registering a police complaint, as they fear that their child’s future would be jeopardised. “It’s mostly because of this that such touts have a free run.”
He adds that as and when the police are tipped off that touts are swindling students, they approach the management of the institute concerned. “But, they claim not to have appointed any person or agent to help them with their admission process.”
An officer from the Juhu police station explains that there are some colleges which hire agents to help them find students. “The college pays such agents a commission on the basis of a percentage. Dubey and Dua had claimed that they had helped several students get seats in the Juhu college in the past through their contacts within the institution, but that this time around, it was taking a tad longer.”
Why they have a free run
A crime branch officer says it is very difficult to identify those who run such a racket. “If students or their parents are ready to pay touts for admission, then we cannot do anything unless they approach the police and lodge a complaint.”
Touts have a finger on the pulse of a college admission process; they mostly surface right when it begins. They loiter around a college and set their eyes on any student checking out the admission chart. “No person wants his/her child to waste a year. So parents are willing to borrow from relatives if the money can get them a confirmed seat,” adds the officer.
A senior officer from the crime branch says the police had planned to launch an awareness drive two to three years ago to warn students against such touts. “But it is practically impossible to convince aspirants not to fall for the touts’ tricks. If a student scores less and wants admission in a reputed college, especially in the commerce or science stream, then he/she knows that the only way to get in is through influence or by paying their way into it.”
He alleges that more often than not, the college management is hand in glove with such racketeers. “It is a business... The touts and the management can both earn a lot of money.”
‘Define mgmt quota admission process’
Several colleges, though, trash such an allegation. They claim that time and again, they have been warning students to stay away from such touts.
Javed Akhtar, principal of MH Saboo Siddique College of Engineering, says, “We have put up huge banners at the college gates warning students and parents against touts who make false promises about getting them seats. Besides, the college prospectus, which is given with the admission form, warns against such practices. Students and parents need to be made aware of such a menace and its repercussions.”
So, if colleges are already doing their bit to warn students and their parents, how does such a racket still thrive? Akhtar echoes the senior crime branch officer, “Some people are extremely vulnerable because they are desperate to get admission to a particular college. Touts take advantage of this.”
Akhtar suggests that each college should have a well-defined admission process even for the management seat quota to end this menace.
A principal of a Navi Mumbai engineering college agrees. “There is no clarity over admission to seats falling under the management quota. The decisions are made by the college management and regulatory bodies do not have any control over this process.”
SK Mahajan, director of the Directorate of Technical Education — a regulatory body for engineering, management and other professional courses — says, “Under the centralised admission process, 80% of admissions are based on the merit of an aspirant. The rest of the seats fall under the management quota. Institutes, though, have to follow a set of guidelines when filling these up. But, when touts are involved, it becomes a criminal case and the regulatory body does not have any power to take action in such a case.”
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