Facing CBI probe, IIT Goa director says move was motivated and scares academics like him

The FIR accuses Mishra of amassing movable and immovable assets, and that he was worth only Rs 3.79 lakh in 2005, the year he joined the IMMT. According to him, he has been facing harassment since he took disciplinary measures against certain colleagues.

Written by Smita Nair | Ponda (panaji) | Published:June 28, 2017 4:14 am
IIT Goa, IIT Goa director, BK Mishra case, CBI probe against IIT Goa director, disproportionate assets case against IIT Goa director, india news, indian express IIT Goa Director Dr B K Mishra (Source: Twitter)

Facing a CBI probe over “disproportionate assets”, IIT Goa Director Dr B K Mishra says no director of any premier institute in India will dare take disciplinary action against colleagues going by his fate.

Mishra, who served as director at the Institute of Minerals and Materials Technology (IMMT), Bhubaneswar, till March this year, told The Indian Express he suspects an “organised engineered campaign by a bunch of disgruntled former junior colleagues” behind the CBI FIR against him of stocking assets worth Rs 1.4 crore, filed on June 21.

The FIR accuses Mishra of amassing movable and immovable assets, and that he was worth only Rs 3.79 lakh in 2005, the year he joined the IMMT.

In a press note soon after the raid at Mishra’s Goa home, the CBI said it had recovered “incriminating documents”. CBI spokesperson R K Gaur told The Indian Express, “The case is in the initial stage of investigation. The CBI will make all efforts to carry out a fair, professional and expeditious investigation.”

Says Mishra, “Our case is that we were and are worth much more. It’s a fact that my wealth is much more than what the allegation is. You expect me and my wife, having worked in the US and later at IIT and in academic consultancy for years, to have only Rs 3.79 lakh after two decades? I have saved and invested every penny to make my wealth. What does this raid show? Is it a crime to generate wealth? Are we as academics not supposed to earn and tend to our children’s future? Let me tell you, none of us works for charity or philanthropy…. I am still nursing bank loans for the properties I have invested in.”

Anu shows a picture of the money seized from the house. “That is Rs 1,820 to be exact. The CBI allowed me to take a picture of the cash they recovered from our premises.” Talking about photographs carried by other newspapers giving the impression of piles of seized notes, the 51-year-old adds, “It took us some time to convince the CBI that we didn’t even have a locker.”

The family has given copies of their declaration before the Lokpal, along with appointment letter of Mishra as IIT Director and their property papers to the CBI. “Before I got selected as Director IIT, my file went till the PMO. Vigilance checks were also done. Then how did this happen?” Mishra says. “I approached my seniors and they called to say the minister concerned (HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar) has been apprised.”

“When such events happen, academicians like me have no choice but to take offers abroad and leave. The whole idea is the system should protect us when we take actions benefiting the academia,” Mishra adds.

The 58-year-old did his Masters in Detroit and PhD. in Utah and worked in the US before he was offered the post of assistant professor in IIT Kanpur in 2005. During his sabbatical years since, he has taught in the US as well as held a post in England.

According to him, he has been facing harassment since he took disciplinary measures against certain colleagues. “In the first instance, a scientist was transferred to Kolkata. He wanted to become the Head of Department of Advanced Materials at the IMMT. Under him, a junior scientist had filed a case of sexual harassment, that was pushed under the carpet. He also faced several other complaints. He wrote the first bunch of letters, which went till the PMO,” says Mishra.

The second case he talks about is of a technician who wanted to have his grade improved to benefit from a Pay Commission slab. “It was not possible for the organisation to help him…. The third was the case of a stenographer who kept pushing me for favours to get him academic recognition. When that didn’t take shape, he wrote anonymous letters to 36 academic directors. This went on for a year and I finally wrote to my seniors at the CSIR (Council of Scientific and Industrial Research), New Delhi, to help stop this harassment.”

Mishra said he discovered that the IMMT had a “culture of such letters from a few disgruntled bunch… with no evidence to back it”.

Mishra says the series of anonymous letters made it difficult for him to run the laboratory at the IMMT.

The IMMT, that had issued a press statement concerning the Mishra case stating there were no financial irregularities at the institute, said it wouldn’t comment on the CBI allegation as it was “a personal matter”.

Since the CBI raid on June 21, Mishra says, he has been getting many phone calls. “Some of my peers laugh, saying ‘Mishra, you only made a crore after all this while’. Even my former students make more wealth than me. But in other calls, academics from across the fraternity, IITians, scientists and others, say they are afraid as they feel the CBI is after academics. One IIT scientist called to ask if the properties he purchased will also be probed.”

While praising the CBI officers as “totally professional”, he adds, “Our point is, probe us, but at least before you book based on an anonymous letter, give us a chance, read our documents, study our investments and property.”

The CBI has denied that it started a probe based on “an anonymous letter”. Gaur said, “The alleged comment relating to investigation of said case is denied.”

His daughter who is studying medicine and planning to pursue studies in the US is now unsure if she wants to return, Mishra adds. “The trauma is deep. We are a family of scholars and we didn’t know how to handle this.”

Mishra’s plans for IIT Goa include a tie-up with a German exchange programme and visiting the US to get professors and students for specialised programmes. “I wonder now what they must think of me. This news will stick.”

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  1. S
    Shishir
    Jul 2, 2017 at 10:31 pm
    CBI won't file a FIR without any basis. If Prof. Mishra is innocent then he need not to worry. Pleading innocence before investigation appears to be an act of influencing investigations. Acedemicians and Scientists are also part of the society and remain involved in all sorts of corruption even after reaching at the top. If frequent fair enquiries are conducted people will come to know about the mess they have created in the name of acedemics and S T and they will loose any sympathy for them.
    Reply
    1. K
      Kara
      Jul 3, 2017 at 5:34 pm
      In countries like US and UK, legal matters like those are kept confidential until proven. Privete citizens are protected. Publishing before proving is not the way. And if the Govt, does it, a person has every right to defend himself. What a stupid comment. And why such hatred for academicians? Failed in school kya?
      Reply
      1. K
        Kara
        Jul 3, 2017 at 5:37 pm
        In countries like US and UK, legal matters like those are kept confidential until proven. Citizens are protected. Publishing before proving is not the way. And if the Govt, does it, a person has every right to defend himself. What a stupid comment. And why such hatred for academicians? Failed in school probably?
        Reply
        1. K
          Kara
          Jul 3, 2017 at 5:43 pm
          In countries like US and UK, legal matters are kept confidential until proved, and citizens are protected. Publishing before proving isn't the right way, and if the Govt. breaks rules, the person has a fundamental right to defend himself.
          Reply
        2. S
          S. Sengupta
          Jul 1, 2017 at 8:23 pm
          If and when charges are proved to be unfounded, the complainants should be booked for maligning and harassing a person. A Professor today earns about 25 lakhs annually. Should be able to save lot more than a crore. Prof. Mishra should have been tougher.
          Reply
          1. S
            sagar
            Jun 28, 2017 at 4:43 pm
            Mishra should first face the investigation and when he comes out clean, then he can talk all these and bull stories. Right now, he does not have any right to defend with silly reasons.
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              Niladrinath Mohanty
              Jun 28, 2017 at 6:55 pm
              If he is an honourable he has all rights to defend himself. Grow up.
              Reply
              1. S
                sagar
                Jun 29, 2017 at 8:26 am
                Yes, defend with facts. He should not look for sympathy and not be vulnerable attributing to all academicians.
            2. A
              AKB
              Jun 28, 2017 at 2:11 pm
              Raid Amba bani's , as the world knows how they made/built their empire. Hope the government will let loose the C Bee Aiyee after them.
              Reply
              1. S
                sagar
                Jun 29, 2017 at 8:30 am
                Let the land of law take its course ..... why to bring in Ambanis and others. You can also ask Why Vijay Malya, there are many other big fish.
                Reply
                1. K
                  Kara
                  Jun 30, 2017 at 3:03 pm
                  Doesn't look like he's looking for sympathy. This is a clear case of harassment. There is no law and order in this country. Why is this in the media if the case hasn't been solved and there's no proof yet against him?
                  Reply
                2. S
                  Shamsul Islam
                  Jun 28, 2017 at 12:18 pm
                  The present RSS/BJP regime will not let any honest academician/administrator to survive. Surely, if he had paid to politicians or courted to RSS he would not have faced this harassment. All the best to Professor.
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                  1. M
                    Maha
                    Jun 28, 2017 at 11:07 am
                    The amount involved and the accuses made looks funny. Looks like a harassment CBI but wondering how it could happen in a bjp run state
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                      angel
                      Jun 28, 2017 at 10:56 am
                      The BJP agenda is very clear. With us or we will finish any one who opposes. Speaking against the bjp policies is called Anti National. As discussed an Emergency like situation is being created . Just wait before elections BJP will throw the Ram Mandir agenda and win the next elections. As they have nothing to show to the common man. Small fries like Bhujbal have been languishing in the jail as they Bakara. The Gujarat system is being implemented by frightening the minorites and breaking the opposition all over India. God Help India .
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                        Niladrinath Mohanty
                        Jun 28, 2017 at 6:53 pm
                        Be sensible. This has nothing to do with BJP or Congress Party. Please read my comment. The case against me was filed in 1992 when Congress Govt. was in power. Often the cases are filed out grudge on some ones part, some ones instigation. The point is the investigating agency does work ib a professional manner. Hence very low rate of conviction.
                        Reply
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                        Skyu
                        Jun 28, 2017 at 10:46 am
                        This has also happened in past to vice chancellors of central universities and IIT directors. They are all professionals and had done high quality research and teaching abroad.Even their spouses are highly qualified and have high ry. So, harassment to them for their earned money is motivated.It will definitely discourages good academicians to become directors or VCS. Please stop defaming them for their hard earned money and say sorry .
                        Reply
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