Pune Police have arrested two persons in connection with a fraud case in which at least 16 parents have been allegedly duped of over Rs 35 lakh in the name of their wards’ admission to Hutchings High School. The two arrested have been identified as Shripati Koditkar (49), a resident of Ambegaon Pathar, and Vishal Navale (35), a resident of Vadgaon Dhayari. Police suspected the duo, who are drivers of private school vans, to have acted as go-between for a conman who duped at least 16 parents and made a ‘cut’ from the money that the parents paid to get their kids admitted in ‘management quota’ of the school.
The duo was arrested on July 29 and produced before a judicial magistrate on Sunday. The fraud incident came to light last month after the school opened for the fresh academic year when one of the students who recently got admission reported with an admission fees challan, which the authorities ascertained to be fake. Later, the school found out more such “admission slips”.
Further probe revealed that a certain Anil Shinde, resident of Hadapsar, had collected about Rs 35,39,450 from 16 parents after convincing them that he was in the managing committee of the school and would manage a seat for their ward in the school. He allegedly also generated fake challans to convince the parents that he had deposited the money in the school’s account. While the police are on a lookout for Shinde, he was yet to be traced.
Assistant Police Inspector A E Shete, who is investigating the case, said Koditkar and Navale were arrested after the investigation revealed that they were in constant touch with Shinde and that they were the ones who collected the money from parents and gave them forged challans.
“There are many of the 16 cheated parents who never even met Shinde. Koditkar and Navale were acting as agents. We suspect they made a cut of Rs 20,000-30,000 per student for their services. They were totally non-coperative during our inquiries, hence we have arrested them and taken a police remand. We now hope to get vital information about operations as well as whereabouts of Shinde,” said Shete.
Meanwhile, parents claimed that they made a ‘donation’ in the range of Rs 30,000 to Rs 5 lakh to Shinde to secure the admission. The first parent to approach the police was Sopan Baug resident Rakesh Sharma, who lodged a complaint and also named Shinde in the First Information Report (FIR). As more parents came forward, the complaints of 15 others were appended to this FIR, which relates to the offence punishable under Section 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code.
As per police, the suspect would get friendly with the parents visiting the school and would lure them with admission offers for their wards in exchange for money. Shinde would drop down at the school in a four-wheeler and would move around as a office bearer, impersonating as a member of the school’s managing committee, police said. Rita Katawati, Principal, Hutchings High School, refused to comment on the development, saying the administration would let the police do their work.