Pradeep Pattanayak

Palpable unrest gripped the campus of Bhadrak Autonomous College as a huge number of students locked up the college gate and burnt tyres on roads over allegations on running of a fake disability certificate racket to illegally obtain admission. Later, the campus witnessed heavy deployment of police force to contain the situation from worsening. 

Tension erupted in the college after information in response to an RTI query revealed that students with 40 percent mark are getting admission, by producing false person with disabilities (PWD) certificate. On the other hand, protesters alleged that students who have secured even 80 percent marks are being denied admission. 

Deeptiman Jena, an alumnus of Bhadrak Autonomous College had sought information about the students who had furnished fake PWD certificates to obtain admission. The copies of certificates furnished by the college authorities show that Abinash Prusty and Rudrakant Jena are visually impaired students with 44 and 43 percent disabilities respectively. Similarly, Asish Kumar Mohanty, Somnath Barik, Soumyaranjan Nayak and Chandan Das are also shown as physically challenged in their PWD certificates. 

These PWD certificates also bear the seal of the chief district medical officer (CDMO), Bhadrak. 

To verify the authenticity of the certificates, information was sought from the CDMO office under the RTI Act. And the revelation stirred up a hornet’s nest after the CDMO office denied of having issued any certificates against the mentioned names. 
“There are a few students who managed to arrange seats for themselves by providing fake PWD certificates. In this regard, we went to the Principal but he turned a deaf ear to our allegation. With no option left, we were forced to protest,” said an agitating student, Santosh Khuntia. 

When contacted, RTI applicant Deeptiman Jena clarified that digital PWD certificates are being issued since 2014. But the college authorities entertained hand-written PWD certificates and admitted the students. 
In this regard, when asked, Principal of Bhadrak Autonomous College, Umakanta Samal termed the allegation leveled against the institute as baseless, saying they don’t have any role in the admission process since it is being done online. 

“We will send the objected certificates for verification. Since the SAMS process for admission has been stopped, nothing can be done to fill up the resultant vacant seats. We will inform the government about the vacant seats and if the government permits us to admit students, then only we can take in students,” informed Samal.  

The students who had furnished the fake certificates alleged that a few alumni and student leader had facilitated the admission of the students who had below cut-off marks by receiving Rs 20,000 to Rs 30,000 from each. 
“I didn’t prepare the fake PWD certificate drawn up in my name. I don’t know who did it but Rakesh Panda had collected money ranging from Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 from 30 to 40 students to facilitate their admission,” alleged Abinash Prusty. 
Echoing the same, Rudrakant Jena, another student who had allegedly furnished his fake certificate alleged, “Deeptiman Jena had asked Rs 20,000 to provide me a PWD certificate. The deal was settled at Rs 12,000 and I had given the sum to him.”

However, Rakesh Panda, who is BJD State Joint-Secretary, and Deeptiman Jena refuted the allegations leveled against them.

“It is a political conspiracy against me. I have been drawn into it. I demand an enquiry and thereafter I will file defamation case,” clarified Panda. 

Jena said, “I demand a transparent enquiry and strict action against those found guilty,” he said. 

The involvement of a leader of the ruling BJD meanwhile has provided a peg to the Opposition BJP to hang their attack on the former. 

In a tweet, BJP General Secretary Lekhashree Samantasinghar slammed the BJD, saying the entire education system is being controlled by the ruling party’s middlemen (dalals). She alleged that Bhadrak MLA and the College Principal are involved in this sorry state of affair due to which the career of many meritorious students is at stake. 

OTV representatives tried to contact Bhadrak MLA Sanjib Mallick on his mobile number for his reaction but he did not pick up the call.