The lingering controversy at Sir Parshurambhau (SP) College over clandestine admission of students claimed its first (and perhaps only) scalp yesterday, as principal Dr Dilip Sheth was forced to step down from his post.
The noose had been tightening around Sheth ever since this newspaper reported on October 8 (‘Midterm exams just days away, but backdoor admissions still on at SP college’) about the strange goings-on, which compelled the management to react (‘SP College backdoor admissions: principal to face action’, October 9). Yesterday, vice-principal Surekha Dange insisted that despite opposition from his employers, Sheth went ahead with the ‘unauthorised’ admissions, which finally forced the latter to quit.
Very early in the day, it had become apparent that all was not well at the institute. Following a lengthy meeting, Shikshan Prasarak Mandali – that runs the college – asked the principal to resign, after which both Sheth and members of the management vanished from the campus, apprehending the wrath of prospective students and agents, who wanted the admissions to be authorised at any cost. A strong protest erupted hours later, which soon turned physical, as there were attempts to manhandled government officials, who had arrived to seize documents pertaining to Std XI admissions conducted on Tuesday.
“All the admissions done by the principal are unauthorised, and the college management has no role in this. Therefore, these enrolments would be cancelled. We have already intimated the office of deputy director of education (Pune division) that the college doesn’t have enough infrastructure for these additional students, and we don’t want to carry out a single admission illegally. In the morning, the principal has resigned,” Dange said.
However, after the vice-principal’s official statement, the mob that had gathered went berserk and some political activists present there demanded that the college management accept the added admissions. To inspect the status of admissions done by the college on Tuesday, a task force of four officials from deputy director office arrived on campus in the afternoon. When these functionaries and media persons were waiting for the vice-principal, around 50 self-proclaimed activists barged in and started threatening assistant director of education Balasaheb Owhal in abusive language. When Owhal replied to their arguments, one of the youths tried to manhandle the officer. He even lifted a plastic chair, ostensibly to hit Owhal.
“We came here to seize all the documents of class XI admissions done by the college, to check for irregularities. However, neither the principal nor any management member is present on campus. Also, these so-called activists ate trying to pressurise me,” Owhal told MiD DAY. Vishrambaug police station placed heavy bandbobast on the campus and senior cops including DCP Makarand Ranade, PI Arjun Sakunde and PI Rajendra Savant tried to pacify the mob. After hours of uproar, late in the evening Shikshan Prasarak Mandali vice-president Anant Mate clarified that the management would meet on Thursday with deputy director (education) Suman Shinde to decide the future course of action.
Start to finish
During a surprise visit by MiD DAY at Shikshan Prasarak Mandali’s office (at the rear of SP College) on Monday, we found an illegal admission racket thriving, as some political activists were finessing the admission of around 80 students to class XI. After this newspaper’s report the next day, deputy director of education Suman Shinde took cognisance of the matter and made it clear that if the admissions weren’t scrapped, her office would initiate strong action. Finally, in a face-saving attempt, the management of SP College asked principal Dilip Sheth to resign yesterday