I’s known as a hotspot of opium farming and ground zero of a violent protest by farmers that led to police firing and five deaths last year.
Today, Mandsaur on Madhya Pradesh’s border with Rajasthan is quietly gaining a new reputation in an unlikely field — the world of pay-and-publish research journals.
Unlike Hyderabad, which is home to heavyweight “predatory publishers”, such as 750-journal OMICS, an investigation by The Indian Express has revealed that the Mandsaur business revolves around over 100 journals covering science to management, a few names and many locked houses.
When The Indian Express reached Mandsaur to track the faces behind these journals, one name that popped up frequently was that of Pawan Lohar, a 31-year-old web developer with a B.Sc in Pharmacy who is “studying for MBA”. Lohar and his “former employees”, Dinesh Solanki and brother Mukesh Solanki, have their names listed on scores of journals from this town.
Then, there’s “Lawarencepress” from “Lawrence Road, Delhi”, which brings out 63 journals with one of its three addresses in Mandsaur, apart from Jaipur and the National Capital. Another leading player here is BRNSS Publications, which is brought out by Mandsaur University — a private institution owned by Narendra Nahata, a former Congress minister in MP.
Most of the journals linked to Lohar and the Solankis can be traced to interscience.org.uk, a website registered by Mukesh Solanki under “Valley Publication Online Journal and Books”, according to an entry that was publicly available until April 18, 2018. Among the journals it publishes is “International Journal of Ayurvedic and Herbal Medicine”, which identifies its “Editor-in-Chief” as “Dr Dinesh Solanki” at “11, Nagda Niwas, Chichani Colony, Mandsaur, MP”. At Nagda Niwas, residents said Solanki was a homeopathy doctor who moved out four years ago. The journal’s “publication charges” are Rs 2,000 for Indians and $100 for foreign nationals.
Another company linked to this group is Valley International Journals at “LIG 73 Megdoot Nagar, Mandsaur, MP”. The address, residents said, was that of Pawan Lohar who was not available at the time. Later, speaking to The Indian Express over phone, Lohar said: “I have established only one company for these journals and given permanent addresses on all records. We get reviewed articles from many people. I have not applied for approval for any of my journals from the UGC because my focus is not India but abroad. Anyway, getting listed by the UGC is not an easy task. Indian authorities are concerned about many other things, except quality.”
However, Registrar of Companies (RoC) records show that Lohar is also the owner of Ayushi Publications and Everant Publishers. Valley International publishes International Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities Invention (IJSSHI), International Journal of Medical Science and Clinical Invention (IJMSCI), International Journal of Engineering and Computer Science (IJECS) and International Journal of Scientific Research and Management (IJSRM).
Lohar did not respond to detailed queries on his editorial strength — the “Editorial Team” icon on the website of two of his journals led to blank pages. “Dr Dinesh Solanki” pops up again as “Editor” of IJECS, this time sharing Lohar’s address. Lohar himself is listed as “Principal Contact- Editor” of IJSRM with a “publication fee” of Rs 4,000 for Indians and $100 for foreign nationals.
Dinesh’s brother Mukesh emerges as the “Editor-in-Chief” of rajournals.in at “40, Satya Sai Colony Sanjit Naka Kityani, Mandsaur, MP”. Sanjit Naka and Kityani are two separate localities, and Mukesh was not available at either of them. RA Journals publishes RA Journal of Applied Research and International Journal of Management and Economics Invention. Both charge Rs 2,000 from Indians and $100 from foreign nationals.
The company’s website lists four other publications as “our other journals”, one of which is “International Journal of Ayurvedic and Herbal Medicine” published by interscience.org.uk from “Chichani Colony”.
Two of these journals led back to Everant Publishers owned by Lohar and based at “64, Mangalam Vihar, Mandsaur”, which was again a locked residence. Everant brings out two journals with Mukesh Solanki as “Publication Head”.
It’s not just Lohar and the Solankis, though.
The address of “International Scientific Research Organization Journal” — A/137, Janta Colony, Mandsaur — led to a deadend, too. Instead of “Editor-in-Chief Deepak Dangi”, the occupant of this house was Aman Chauhan. “There is no person by the name Deepak Dangi in this house,” he said.
Mandsaur is one of the towns listed by lawarancepress.com, which claims to run 21 journals on “medical and health science”, 15 on “science and technology”, 12 on “dental and pharmacy”, nine on “applied and biomedical science”, four on “management and social science”, and two on “learning and humanities”.
Its listed address — House no. 15, Phase-I, Yash Nagar — was locked. A neighbour said the house belonged to “Dr Pramod Kumar Singh” who was employed with a local “pharmacy college and has shifted to some African country for teaching”. The Delhi address of “Lawarence Press” — a flat at A-2 / 54B, Lawrence Road, Delhi — was also locked.
The company’s website lists Monika M as “founder”, Koushal A as “co-founder” and Kunwar P as “head of journal division”. None of them responded to queries sent to email IDs listed on the website. The “publishing charges” icon led to the message, “Coming soon”.
In Mandsaur University, BRNSS Publications brings out seven journals and with M A Naidu as the “Editor-in-Chief” of all. Speaking to The Indian Express, Naidu said: “Out of the seven journals, only two are serious. We get our content edited by a professional company based in Coimbatore and all our articles are peer reviewed. We publish these journals because they give the university a good name.”