Kolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday paid a surprise visit to Ashutosh College in South Kolkata and warned of stern action against those who were indulging in irregularities during the admission process of colleges.
Ashutosh College in Hazra area is barely a few meters away from Banerjee's residence. She also interacted with the students and leaders of students' union of the college.
On way to Nabanna on Monday morning, Banerjee walked into the college where she spoke to students, their parents and officials at the online desk to take a stock of the ongoing admission process. After the interaction, she said: "I have not received any complaint here. But we must keep in mind that students are our future. There are many meritorious students from financially weaker backgrounds and it is not a sin to be from a poor family. So students should not face any trouble in getting admission in colleges."
In the same breath, she said: "It will not be tolerated if someone is asking for money for personal interest in the lieu of admission. The state government will take stern action against such irregularities."
The Chief Minister also maintained: "I actively participated in students' politics and this is the college (Ashutosh College) where I spent seven to eight years doing students' politics. Our duty was to help students to get admission. So my appeal to all students' unions and college authorities is to ensure that students get admission on the basis of merit to continue with their studies and money should not be the factor here."
She also had a detailed discussion in this regard with Partha Chatterjee, the state Higher Education minister.
It may be recalled that Banerjee became furious when matters related to the demand of money promising admission in colleges appeared in the media. She instructed Commissioner of Kolkata Police, Rajeev Kumar, to take stern action against those involved in "selling seats". Two persons involved in the racket have already been arrested. Special teams comprising senior police officers have been formed who have visited different colleges in the city since morning.
Partha Chatterjee had also urged students not to pay any extra money for admission.
Following the Chief Minister's instructions, the anti-rowdy section of Kolkata Police's detective department arrested Titan Saha, a former leader of Kolkata's Jaipuria College students' union, on extortion charges. Saha was the general secretary of Jaipuria College.
The sleuths also raided the residence of a Group D staff of Surendranath College, Ratul Ghosh, at Nilmoni Dutta Road in the wee hours on Sunday on similar charges. Though the police team could not find Ghosh, they have seized a number of admission forms and mark sheets of students from his residence. Ghosh had been a student of Commerce in Surendranath College and had joined as a Group D staff three years back. The police had instructed Ghosh's father, Nepal Chandra Ghosh, to ask his son to depose before them soon.
A senior official of the anti-rowdy section said they have identified as many as 17 persons including students and non-teaching staff of a number of institutions who prima facie would extort money for admission purposes.