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Knives out in fight for control of Sangli engineering college

Trust alleges ‘goons barged into college’; Maharashtra Technical Education Society denies charges, says college accounts not in order

By: Express News Service | Pune |
May 26, 2016 12:57:04 am

Known for its academic excellence, the Walchand College of Engineering (WEC) in Sangli district of the state has recently been in the news due to the fight between two warring bodies for control of the institution.

While a legal fight is under way in the Bombay High Court, the two sides sparred again on Tuesday.

In a press statement issued Wednesday afternoon, Ravi Purohit, member of administrative council of the WCE, alleged that on May 24, “goondas of Prithviraj Deshmukh, president of the Sangli BJP, led by SG Kantikar, illegally barged into the WCE campus and the office of WCE director Dr GV Parishwad”.

“Kantikar and others threatened and forcibly removed him from his chamber, snatched keys of the premises from him and occupied his office illegally. They prevented other professors and staff from entering the office of the director,” the release said. It further said Kantikar demanded that the deputy director Dr P J Kulkarni hands over the charge to MG Devmane, which the former refused.

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Purohit claimed in the statement that hundreds of “goondas” had been placed in the campus and the director forced to remain out of his office with threats. “… It is indeed very unfortunate that Mr Deshmukh is using his clout and abusing his position as a member of BJP in an illegal and unethical manner, indulging in threatening and intimidating to take over the college,” the release stated.

According to Purohit, in January 2015, the same group had forcibly removed the security guards in the college and deployed their own men as guards. Faced with threat to the college and the students, the administrative council approached the Bombay High Court which ordered police protection to the college.

“Since then, the college has been under police protection for which it has paid more than Rs 70 lakh to the police department. Despite this, the safety of 5,000 students has remained in danger,” Purohit’s statement read.

Purohit has also written a letter to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis asking for his immediate intervention. The administrative council is headed by Ajit Gulabchand and Dr Parsihwad is both the director of the college and secretary of the council.

When contacted Kanitkar, who is the secretary of the Maharashtra Technical Education Society, termed the allegations a “blatant lie.” “For the last four years, the present director has failed to give any accounts. This has created problem for the society with both the Income Tax department and the Charity Commissioner. Our motive in removing the director was to start an inquiry into the affairs of the college,” he said.

The present administrative council, Kanitkar said, was trying to delink the college from the Society which had
started it in 1947. Deshmukh happens to be the president of Society at present.

Police inspector Anil Chormale of Vishrambag police station in Sangli said, “The college management has not registered any police complaint. From our side, we asked them whether they wanted to file any case, but they have refused. As per the High Court order, paid protection has been provided to the college since last year.”

Established in 1945, the Maharashtra Technical Education Society runs 11 educational institutions in Sangli and Pune. Walchand College of Engineering, spread over more than 100 acres, was previously known as National Engineering College Sangli and was started in 1947. “After acceptance of a grant from the Seth Walchand Hirachand Memorial Trust in 1954-55, the name of the college was changed to Walchand Engineering College,” Kanitkar said.

An Administrative Council (AC) was set up in 1956, comprising 11 members of which four were from the Society and one from the trust. The remaining members of the Council were to be from the government and the principal. The composition of the AC was again changed in 1962 which stated that three of the four members of the Society on the council would have to be ratified by the Trust. The administrative council has asked for setting up of a new trust which would include five nominees of the Trust and one from the Society, which would be responsible for running the college.

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